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Ex-Andhra minister sent to judicial custody in ESI scam

Ex-Andhra minister sent to judicial custody in ESI scam

A special court in Andhra Pradesh on Saturday sent former state minister and opposition TDP leader K. Atchannaidu to judicial custody for 14 days in the multi-crore Employees' State Insurance (ESI) scam.

Atchannaidu, who was arrested by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) in Srikakulam district on Friday, was produced before the ACB Special Court.

The deputy leader of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in the State Assembly was shifted to Vijayawada Sub-Jail and was later admitted to Government General Hospital (GGH) in Guntur on the direction of the court.

On a plea by Atchannaidu's counsel, the judge directed the authorities to provide medical treatment to him in view of his condition. The court was informed that the MLA had undergone surgery two days ago and was advised rest by the doctors.

The court directed GGH superintendent to submit periodical reports of Atchannaidu's health and the treatment provided to him.

Meanwhile, GGH Superintendent Dr K. Sudhakar told reporters that the TDP leader's condition was stable. He said it may take two to three days for the surgical wound to dry up.

The ACB had taken the TDP leader into custody from his residence at Nimmada in Srikakulam district around 7.30 a.m on Friday and after nearly 12 hours journey by road he was brought to Vijayawada.

He was first taken to ACB range office where his statement was recorded and was subsequently shifted to ESI hospital for medical examination, before producing in the ACB Special Court.

TDP General Secretary Nara Lokesh and other leaders had come to the court around midnight to meet Atchannaidu. However, police stopped them saying they can't allow such a meeting.

Atchannaidu, who served as minister in previous TDP government, was allegedly involved in irregularities in procurement of medicines and equipment for ESI hospitals.

In February this year, the Vigilance and Enforcement department claimed to have unearthed a major scam in procurement of medicines and other items worth over Rs 975 crore in ESI hospitals by the Insurance Medical Services (IMS) directorate in the last five years.

Atchannaidu, who was minister for labour and employment in the previous TDP government, allegedly directed then IMS director to issue work orders to a company named 'Tele Health Services Pvt Ltd', without inviting open tenders.

The department pointed out that three officials - Dr B. Ravi Kumar, C.K. Ramesh Kumar and G. Vijaya Kumar who worked as directors of IMS between 2014 and 2019 had placed purchase orders for procurement of drugs, medical equipment, surgical items, lab kits and furniture worth Rs 975.79 crore by violating procedures and guidelines.

ACB, which later took up the case, found that Rs 150 crore were misappropriated in the process of procurement of medicines and equipment.

It announced that seven accused including Atchannaidu were arrested.


Tags: Atchen Naidu ESI scam ACB