GUWAHATI, Jan 16 � At a time when outbreak of malaria remains a major health hazard in Assam, the Health Department incurred wasteful expenditure of Rs 83.37 lakh by procuring insecticide-treated bed nets having shorter shelf life even when long lasting nets were available at the same price. Moreover, bed nets worth Rs 1.87 crore were supplied to the hospitals at a time when the same has shelf life of only 10 months, which reduced the effectiveness of the nets.
This startling revelation came to notice during the audit of the records of the Directorate of Health Services by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG).
The CAG, in its report, said that the Directorate of Health Services received sanction of Rs 3.88 crore in February, 2008 for procuring long lasting insecticide-treated bed nets at the rate of Rs 397 per net against the award of the 12th Finance Commission. The Director of Health Services placed the order in the same month to M/S Health Circle Pvt Limited for supply of 97,853 long lasting insecticide-treated bed nets. The supplier was asked to supply bed nets with shelf life of one year though bed nets with shelf life of four years were available at the same price. The firm supplied 68,000 nets in March and 29,853 nets in May in the same year.
The CAG pointed out that test check of the records of the Directorate of Health Services revealed that the 68,000 bed nets supplied in March, 2008, had shelf life of only ten months with expiry date of January, 2009. Of those nets, 47,000 were issued to different civil hospitals between May and August, 2008 and the remaining 21,000 were issued in February, 2009, when the shelf life of the same already expired. Thus, the acceptance of the bed nets having shorter shelf life and the inability of the department to issue the same promptly frustrated the objective of procuring the nets and resulted in wasteful expenditure of Rs 83.37 lakh.
Besides, 47,000 bed nets worth Rs 1.83 crore, issued to different hospitals, had shelf life of only 10 months, which reduced the effectiveness of the same. Significantly, as a part of the same consignment, 29,853 bed nets were received in May , 2008 with shelf life of almost four years at the same price. Thus, placing order for nets with shorter shelf life at same price was injudicious, the CAG pointed out.
In reply, the Government stated last year that the period of effectives of the nets is calculated from the date of its use and not the date of manufacture. But the reply of the Government is contradictory as the stock register itself showed that the date of expiry of the shelf life of the nets was January, 2009, the report added.