No financial irregularities found in 
COVID-19 testing under NMMC: Report
Bhushan Koyande

A three-member inquiry committee, set up to probe the false negative reports of COVID-19 tests prepared by some testing centres under the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC), submitted its report to the municipal commissioner, indicating that there were no financial irregularities.

The report highlighted that it was a faulty registration procedure that led to the addition of some names to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) website without actual COVID-19 tests being conducted.

A city-based activist had alleged that some testing laboratories under NMMC sought details of the family members of a person visiting the COVID-19 testing centre and then prepared fake negative reports in their name to show that tests have been conducted on all these people in order to claim funding for each test.

Following media reports on the activist's allegation, the civic chief set up an inquiry committee to probe the allegation. The committee submitted a 11,591 pages report to the civic body on Thursday.

As per the report, the committee reached out to around 1,51,956 citizens who had undergone either Antigen or RT-PCR tests for COVID-19 between July 16 and November 30, 2020, through the dedicated call centre to verify whether they had actually undergone the tests. Of the 1,51,965 citizens, 1,50,359 admitted to have undergone the COVID-19 tests. However, 1,597 citizens refused.

Similarly, the committee also made a physical verification by visiting a total of 1,845 citizens’ homes and found 1,843 had gone for the tests.

The committee also checked the inventory of the antigen test kits. The civic body had bought a total of 2,40,000 kits, of which 2,13,604 kits were used and 4,717 were found defective. And, a total of 21,679 kits were available in the inventory.

The committee also recorded statements of nodal officers, doctors and other staff and concluded that there were no financial irregularities in the testing for COVID-19.

As per the conclusion of the report, the total number of Rapid Antigen Kits used is 2,13,604. However, the number of tests registered on the ICMR website is 2,21,476. As a result, 7,872 additional entries were found on the ICMR website, which appears to be due to faulty registration procedures. The report stated that no financial irregularities were found in it.

Civic body chief Abhijit Bangar said that it was mistake in data entry and the number is big. "The responsibility will be fixed and action will be taken," said Bangar.

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