Kumbh COVID Testing Scam: ED raids several labs in Delhi-NCR, Uttarakhand

ED had conducted a search at the offices and residential premises of Novus Path Labs, Dr Lal Chandani Labs, Max Corporate Services, DNA Labs, and Nalwa Labs in Dehradun, Delhi, Noida, Haridwar, and Hisar, with connection to fake COVID-19 testing scam during the Kumbh Mela at Haridwar.

The ED (Enforcement Directorate) had said on August 6, that they had raided the premises of many pathological labs in connection to a fake COVID-19 testing scam in the Delhi-NCR and Uttarakhand which had come out during the Kumbh Mela Festival.

In an official statement, it was mentioned that ED had conducted a search at the offices and residential premises of Novus Path Labs, Dr Lal Chandani Labs, Max Corporate Services, DNA Labs, and Nalwa Labs in Dehradun, Delhi, Noida, Haridwar, and Hisar, with connection to fake COVID-19 testing scam during the Kumbh Mela at Haridwar.

Max Corporate Services had hired Nalwa Labs and Dr Lalchandani Labs to conduct COVID-19 tests. Over 1 lakh tests were conducted at these 11 company labs which had been spotted by the investigators.

The scam came to light when a Punjab resident received a negative COVID-19 report from the Haridwar health department but had not visited the Kumbh Mela, the resident filed a complaint with the Indian Council of Medical Research who alerted the authorities of Uttarakhand.

In a detailed investigation, it was found that over 1 lakh test reports had been forged by a private agency.

In the 1600 page investigation report, it was mentioned that a single phone number had been used to register over 50 people whereas 700 samples had been tested using a single-use antigen test kit. The phone numbers used were fake and were of the sample people across different cities.

The addresses and names were also found to be fictional by the investigation, where it was reported that over 530 samples had been taken from a single house.

The Health officer of Kumbh Mela, Dr Arjun Singh Sengar, had mentioned that two other private labs were also under investigation to whom the agency was supposed to submit the samples.

Amit Negi, the Health Secretary, had said that the report found many irregularities and was forwarded to the Haridwar DM and action would be taken within 15 days when the DM responds.

DM of Haridwar, C Ravishankar said that the matter was being investigated and the payment of the agencies had been put on hold until further notice. The scam was of crores as the report mentioned that each agency was paid Rs 350 per antigen test.

The 200 employees of the agency who were sample collectors were students and data entry operators in Rajasthan. 8 more agencies had been found for conducting fake COVID-19 test samples during the Kumbh Mela.

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