U’khand COVID testing scam: Private lab kept uploading data on ICMR portal even after contract ended

Dehradun: Recent investigations have revealed that the private agency accused of irregulaties in COVID-19 tests during the recently concluded Kumbh Mela, continued to upload data on the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), portal even after its agreement with the Mela administration concluded, police said Monday.

According to the police, the period of the contract for corona investigations signed between the Kumbh Mela Health Officer’s office and the private agency Max Corporate as well as the two private laboratories Dr Lalchandani Lab and Nalwa Laboratories was valid only till the month of April.

 As per law, the labs should have stopped conducting COVID-19 tests after this period, but during an investigation by the special investigation team (SIT) constituted a day after a day after a case was registered against Max Corporate Service and the two private laboratories for the alleged fake Covid tests during Kumbh, it was revealed that the labs kept uploading the test data on the ICMR portal till May 16.

DGP Ashok Kumar said, “I have instructed the Haridwar SSP that the SIT should investigate in depth whatever five to six serious points have come up in the RTPCR Testing Scam, No person found guilty would be spared. Further investigation by the special investigation team is underway. It is investigating all other angles as well.”

Earlier today, sources said that the SIT had issued notices to Max Corporate Service New Delhi, Nalwa Laboratories Pvt Ltd of Haryana, and Dr Lalchandani Lab for questioning. The SIT has given them four days to appear before it.

For the last two days, SIT CMO Dr S N Jha has been recording the statements of Kumbh Mela CMO Dr Arjun Singh Sengar. On Thursday, Haridwar District Magistrate on Thursday said investigations should be done to find out if the private laboratories engaged by the state government to conduct tests during the Kumbh had been approved by the ICMR before their empanelment.

“The whole matter will also be probed by CO rank level officer. There seems to be a flaw also in the process of empanelling the labs. It should have been probed if they were approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) before their empanellment. But this was not done. This is a matter of investigation,” the DM C Ravi Shankar said. “The matter was being investigated on the district administration level and on Dehradun level as well. In the district-level probe, many inconsistencies have been found in the COVID test reports during Mahakumbh. In this connection, a case has been lodged against Max corporate agency and two private labs,” he added.

The officer said that after the preliminary investigation, the further probe is underway and it can take up to 10 more days. Other sections will also be added to the case on the basis of the report.

 He informed that in the Dehradun-level investigation, it was found that as many as 1 lakh test reports were produced by only one lab which is impossible, adding that discrepancies in data entry have also been found.

Uttrakhand government registered a case against two private labs and Max Corporate Limited agency in this connection. The state health department lodged an FIR at Nagar Kotwali police station against Max corporate agency, Lalchandani Labs, and Nalwa Lab in Nagar Kotwali, according to Senior Superintendent of Police in Haridwar Senthil Avoodai Krishna Raj.