The Haridwar district administration has ordered a probe into allegations that fake Covid reports were issued by private laboratories engaged by the Uttarakhand government to conduct tests during the Kumbh Mela.
One of the world’s largest religious gatherings, the Kumbh was held in the state from April 1 to 30, and the notified Kumbh area covered various places in Haridwar, Dehradun and Tehri districts.
A committee headed by Chief Development Officer Saurabh Gaharwar has been constituted to look into the allegations and submit a report within 15 days, Haridwar District Magistrate C Ravishankar said on Saturday.
Payment to all labs which had been assigned the responsibility of conducting tests — RT-PCR and rapid antigen — during the Kumbh has been withheld for the time being due to the ongoing investigation, Mr Ravishankar said.
A detailed probe was ordered by the Haridwar administration after preliminary investigations revealed that many private labs roped in by the district health department issued fake Covid test reports in the name of random people on the basis of their identity cards and phone numbers.
Preliminary investigations into the alleged irregularities had been conducted by Chief Controlling Officer of Covid Cases Abhishek Tripathi, who recommended a detailed probe into the matter.
It is suspected that more than one lakh such test results had been issued by the private labs, sources in the health department said.
The labs apparently did so to meet the daily testing quota of 50,000 tests set by the Uttarakhand High Court during the Kumbh, the sources said.
Twenty-two private labs had been hired for the purpose by the district health department to conduct testing during the festival.
When contacted Haridwar’s Chief Medical Officer, Mr S K Jha, said, “Kumbh area extends up to Rishikesh. Until the probe ordered by the district administration is complete it is difficult to say at what level the alleged irregularities were committed.”
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)