AP ESI medicine scam: TDP MLA Atchannaidu, Chandrababu’s close aide, arrested

South India

Senior Telugu Desam Party leader and former Andhra Pradesh Minister K Atchannaidu and five others were arrested on Friday, June 12, over their alleged involvement in the Rs 150 crore ESI medical purchases "scandal" during the previous Telugu Desam Party regime.

The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) officials arrested Atchannaidu, who is a member of the current Legislative Assembly, from his residence in Srikakulam district. The other arrested include former Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESI) Directors C Ravi Kumar and G Vijay Kumar, joint director of ESI Janardhan, superintendent Chakravarthy and a senior assistant.

Atchannaidu was the Labour Minister in the previous Chandrababu Naidu-led TDP government when the scandal allegedly took place in the procurement of medicines and medical equipment. The scandal involved irregularities in the purchase of medicines, surgical equipment, and furniture for four ESI hospitals, 3 ESI Diagnostic Centers and 78 ESI Dispensaries spread across the state.

The main accusation is that three former directors of Insurance Medical Services, which implements the ESI scheme, made purchases from firms which were not empanelled with the government or Non Rate Contract firms. They are accused of fabricating quotations from Non Rate Contract firms and paying excess rates, sometimes as high as 36 per cent. The purchases were made from Non Contract Rate firms without calling for tenders and excess amount was paid without negotiating the rates properly, according to an Indian Express report.

"The Vigilance and Enforcement Department conducted a probe into the ESI purchases between 2014 and 2019 and established large scale irregularities. Our investigation also revealed a scam of Rs 150 crore in purchase of medicines, medical kits, furniture and other items. Accordingly, we made these arrests," the newspaper quoted ACB Joint Director as saying.

After coming to power last May, Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy had ordered an investigation (with inputs from agencies)

Image Credit: Indian Express  


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