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Jharkhand Health Minister Banna Gupta (Photo/ANI)
Jharkhand Health Minister Banna Gupta (Photo/ANI)

Jharkhand Health Minister cancels COVID incentive scheme for his cell staff over misappropriation of funds allegation

ANI | Updated: Apr 16, 2022 06:33 IST

Ranchi (Jharkhand) [India], April 16 (ANI): Hitting back at the allegations made by independent MLA Saryu Roy over misappropriation of funds, Jharkhand Health Minister Banna Gupta on Friday said that no funds were withdrawn from the COVID-19 incentive approved by the state health department for his cell, adding that the scheme has been cancelled.
On April 13, Roy had written a letter to the Chief Minister Hemant Soren demanding action against the Health Minister accusing him of illegally taking huge financial incentives in the form of a salary for 60 persons in the health minister's cell including himself, his personal assistant and other staff.
While countering the allegation of misappropriation of funds, Banna said that Roy's allegations are baseless and beyond fact.
"Roy has accused me of illegally withdrawing crores of rupees which is baseless. The incentive was approved by the health department and the estimated expenditure for my ministry's cell was 14.59 lakh. As of now, no amount has been credited to any account. If Roy has proof, he should mention to and from which bank account the money got transferred, respectively. I request Roy to come with evidences supporting his allegation," he said.
Now after the controversy and heated politics over this matter, Health Minister has decided not to take the incentive amount for his cell.
"I am holding a constitutional position and having a public life is my duty. I have decided to cancel the incentive amount on moral grounds and distribute it among those who need it the most," Gupta added.

He also said that this was all departmental communication and department approval and how these documents reached to the legislator Saryu Roy will be investigated as it comes under the beach of the Official Secrets Act.
Jharkhand cabinet had approved the proposals regarding giving one-month extra salary to health department workers and corona warriors who had worked tirelessly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In light of this approval, the Health Minister had written to the health department enquiring the criteria of defining or including official and health workers to this benefit.
According to the health minister, he was informed that he himself comes under this category and can propose his and his staff names.
"In this process, an amount of 14.59 lakh was approved to pay the incentive to persons from the minister's cell, as well as 37 lakh for 94 officials from the health department. A total of 103 crore is the estimated expenditure for the entire state under the incentive scheme," said Banna.
The main opposition party BJP on the other hand has taken a tough stand on this and demands for minister's removal and a high-level enquiry.
Talking on the matter to ANI, state BJP spokesperson Pratul Shahdeo said, "Health Minister's behaviour in the whole matter has been in question. Now that he refuses to take the incentive amount, it means he had approved it for himself and his close associates. Chief Minister should immediately remove him and high-level enquiry should be constituted in the matter." (ANI)