NEW DELHI: The Comptroller and Auditor General of India on Tuesday came down heavily on the Ministry of Defence over alleged irregularities and deficiency in the implementation of the Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) that to led to the loss of over `100 crore to the national exchequer.
In a June 29 report headlined “Fire in the Hole: MoD Sacks Whistleblowers of Army Health Scam”, Express had exposed the corruption in the ECHS after a senior Colonel-rank officer working with the office of the health scheme’s headquarters in Delhi wrote to Army chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag about the irregularities in the department and the role of senior Army officers with private players in them.
The schemes aim to provide health care to around 47 lakh beneficiaries on a cashless basis in line with Central Government Health Scheme through a network of 426 polyclinics, service hospitals and private empanelled hospitals spread over the country. The CAG also brought out various shortcomings in the implementation such as the short supply of medicines to the polyclinics, raising of two claims for the same patients during the overlapping period, irregular payment towards unaccounted bills of empanelled hospitals, among others.
The apex auditor said the availability of medicines, medical equipment, manpower was inadequate in these polyclinics, due to which they were forced to function as referral points, which consumed about 70 per cent of revenue expenditure of the scheme.
Moreover, funds allotted for for procuring medicines were diverted or utilised for the treatment of regular service personnel to the extent of `40.78 crore, the report said.
The report highlighted the irregular payment of `23.61 crore made by Station Headquarters (ECHS Cell) in Delhi Cantonment against the unaccounted bill involving double payments against a particular bill/duplicate bills and also highlighted inflated bills.