At least 1 lakh (Indian numbering system equal to 100 000) Covid-19 reports of tests conducted during Kumbh have been found to be fake. According to a detailed govt probe, a private agency engaged in Covid-19 testing during Kumbh collected fake samples.
Reports say that the agency used fake phone numbers and addresses to register people.
It all came to light after a Punjab-based insurance agent started to investigate the SMS he received stating that his samples have tested negative for COVID-19.
Vipan Mittal, the insurance agent, however, had not given any samples for testing.
Mittal sent an email to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) stating that he received test reports without undergoing a test and when he did not receive a response for it, he submitted an RTI application.
The ICMR told him that his mobile phone number was registered for a COVID-19 test at Haridwar.
Mittal had never been there.
The ICMR further looked into the case and forwarded Mittal’s complaint to Uttarakhand’s health department where they found out that a Haryana-based agency, which was one of the eight contracted to conduct the tests, had allegedly forged lakhs of test reports and registered them to fake phone numbers and addresses.
All other agencies contracted for COVID-19 testing are now being probed.
Mittal, however, says his concern has not ended and he is determined to find out how his personal data was stolen and used in the scam
The “tests” were supposedly conducted between April 1 and 30 during the Kumbh festival after the Uttarakhand high court ordered the state to conduct at least 50,000 daily tests in Haridwar.
The investigation found that names and addresses were fake. Several people shared the same phone number and antigen test kits meant for one-time use.
Students and residents of Rajasthan who had never been to Kumbh were shown as sample collectors. The state had conducted a total of four lakh tests in Haridwar during the mela period with the help of eight sample collection agencies. The other agencies are also under scanner now.