THE BIHAR authorities Thursday ordered an inquiry into the findings of the investigation by The Indian Express, which tracked 885 entries in Covid testing data from three districts and located a number of circumstances of fudged cell numbers, pretend names and dodgy particulars. The Opposition RJD mentioned it’s going to elevate the difficulty in Parliament Friday.
Health Minister Mangal Pandey mentioned “legal action will be taken against those found responsible for the anomalies”. Bihar’s Principal Secretary (Health) Pratyaya Amrit referred to as a gathering of the civil surgeons in control of Jamui and Sheikhpura “to discuss course correction”. The Indian Express investigation centered on these two districts, and Patna.
Taking notice of the findings, in the meantime, neighbouring Jharkhand issued a letter to all Deputy Commissioners within the state for “validation and audit” of testing information. The order directed all district-level groups to “randomly verify the identity of the patient tested for COVID-19 by matching key fields” akin to cell numbers and addresses.
In Patna, Health Minister Pandey instructed reporters: “I have asked the Principal Secretary, Health, to look into every finding being reported and take legal action if anyone is found responsible… We have just started an internal probe. The Health Department is looking into all aspects”.
Asked in regards to the assembly referred to as by the Principal Secretary, a Health Department official mentioned: “Civil surgeons have been asked to submit reports on each anomaly detected and identify officials responsible.”
Taking on the Bihar authorities, Leader of Opposition within the State Assembly Tejashwi Yadav posted on Twitter that Bihar has the “worst testing statistics”. He wrote that the Opposition “repeatedly requested” Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to ramp up testing. But “he responded by transferring 3 health secretaries (who didn’t fudge data),” Yadav alleged.
The RJD chief additionally accused Nitish of “ultimately faking the numbers through his trusted” officers to “mint money” and sought a reply from the Chief Minister. “By fudging data, they have siphoned off billions of a poor state like Bihar,” he alleged.
RJD Rajya Sabha MP and nationwide spokesperson Manoj Kumar Jha instructed The Indian Express: “We have already put up the matter for Zero Hour and will be taking this up as a serious issue in Parliament on Friday.”
Describing the findings as “startling”, Bihar Congress spokesperson Rajesh Rathore requested the federal government to “order a high-level probe”.
In Jharkhand, the order issued by the Health, Medical Education and Family Welfare Department ordered district level-teams to analyse the “gap between sample collection, testing and generation of results”, “pendency in data updation on ICMR portal” and “ensure regular updation”. It requested the groups to “share the findings at the earliest”.
The order referred to The Indian Express investigation and mentioned that “some irregularities and issues have been alleged regarding COVID-19 testing data in another state”.
State Surveillance Officer Rakesh Dayal mentioned: “All DCs have been asked to conduct an independent data audit at the district level for re-verification of authenticity and validity of COVID-19 testing data.” —(With Abhishek Angad in Ranchi)