Alleged corruption scam rocks Kerala assembly

March 3rd, 2009 - 3:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Thiruvananthapuram, March 3 (IANS) The Kerala assembly was Tuesday rocked by a heated debate over a media report that alleged corruption in the medical department, following which the entire opposition staged a walkout.
Health Minister P.K. Sreemathy denied all allegations of corruption that were leveled by the popular Malayala Manorama daily and its sister concern MMTV.

“It has not even been a year since the KMSC (Kerala Medical Service Corporation) replaced the five decade old Central Purchase Committee but it is continuously been attacked. The Manorama has been particularly harsh on it by making baseless allegations,” said Sreemathy.

Since the past week, the Malayala Manorama group has been publihsing reports on how drugs are being purchased by the government from some blacklisted pharmaceutical companies.

“The rules are very clear. Only medicines that are found wanting in quality are blacklisted and not the companies that produce it. The media should behave more responsibly,” added Sreemathy.

However, Congress leader V.D. Satheesan said one particular company whose product was blacklisted was allowed to supply the same drug.

“The sad fact is that KMSC officials have requested the state government to hold a vigilance inquiry against the media, which has uncovered the corruption. And this decision was taken in the presence of the health minister. A vigilance inquiry can be initiated only against public servants,” said Satheesan, whose leave for adjournment was disallowed.

Opposition leader Oommen Chandy said that if the Malayala Manorama report is wrong, the government should file a defamation suit.

“We want to ask Chief Minister V.S.Achuthanandan if the government intends to gag the media and if they plan to launch a vigilance inquiry,” asked Chandy.

Intervening in the debate, Achuthanandan made it clear that his government has no plans of ordering a vigilance inquiry against the media.

However, Chandy led the entire opposition out of the assembly since he said Sreemathy’s explanation was not adequate.

Mathews Varghese, associate editor of Malayala Manorama, told IANS that they stand by their report.

“The sting operation that we did was just meant to bring out corruption in its original form after we received several complaints about the manner in which the KSMC is being run,” said Varghese.

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