Nearly three months after a Ludhiana resident alleged that he was “charged” Rs 3,500 per Covid test of his 9 family members at Moga Civil Hospital, Punjab health authorities ordered termination of Moga district epidemiologist, Dr Naresh Amla, from the Civil Hospital.
Covid testing is done free of cost at government hospitals in Punjab.
Confirming the development that took place late on Thursday, Dr Amarpreet Kaur Bajwa, Moga Civil Surgeon, said, “Dr Naresh Amla has been terminated from the job on the orders of the Director, National Health Mission (NHM), after being indicted in an inquiry conducted by the police. He has been served a one-week notice as per the termination letter issued to him. The inquiry was ongoing against him for allegedly taking money for getting some NRIs tested for Covid.”
Talking to The Indian Express, Moga Deputy Commissioner Sandeep Hans said, “Dr Naresh Amla has been issued termination orders after an inquiry conducted by the police indicted him for taking money for Covid testing of some NRIs. After receiving the complaint, I had forwarded it to the police for a probe and the inquiry has found the allegations to be true.”
The DC added that higher health officials in Chandigarh will decide if an FIR in the matter will be registered or not.
Despite repeated attempts, Dr Amla did not respond to phone calls.
In August this year, Charanjit Singh from village Deherka of Ludhiana, in his complaint submitted to Moga Deputy Commissioner, had alleged that an amount of Rs 31,500 was taken from him by an ‘agent-cum-middleman’ at Moga Civil Hospital, who promised to get his NRI parents and seven other family members tested for coronavirus (Rs 3,500 per test), before their return to Hong Kong.
He had further alleged that the middleman Om Prakash, who met them at Moga Civil Hospital, also promised that “even if test results will be positive, the reports will be prepared as negative” but each test will cost Rs 3,500.
He had stated in his complaint that his NRI parents and other relatives had their flight for August 4 and it was mandatory to get them tested 72 hours prior to the flight.
“When we visited the Moga Civil Hospital, there was a huge rush of patients who were waiting to get tested. The doctors told us that it wasn’t possible to get my family tested that day. When we were returning, an agent named Om Prakash came to us and said that he can get our tests done for Rs 3,500 per person. We had no other option then but to pay him as we needed the reports urgently, but now we want proper probe in the matter. We got to know that many others have been duped like us. Hospital’s CCTV cameras of our meeting with Om Prakash and call records can be checked,” said the complaint.
Money yet to be recovered
Meanwhile, the ‘middleman’ Om Prakash, who is a resident of Suraj Nagar in Moga, has alleged that he handed over an amount of Rs 1.70 lakh for testing of 48 NRIs to Dr Naresh Amla, but the tests were never done. He has also claimed that the doctor was yet to return the money even as 48 NRIs, most of them were Hong Kong bound, have already returned after getting the tests done from other hospitals and health facilities. Moga DC Sandeep Hans said that the alleged money taken by the doctor was yet to be recovered.
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