Sharanjit Singh Dhillon demands Balbir Sidhu be dismissed
Says addicts increased due to illegal diversion of buprenorphine tablets by Health Minister
Chandigarh, March 8 –
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today said it’s assertion that five crore missing buprenorphine tablets had increased drug addiction in Punjab had been substantiated by a government report which stated that 67,000 addicts were now seeking treatment for buprenorphine addiction under the State’s de-addiction programme.
In a statement here, SAD Legislative party leader Sharanjit Singh Dhillon said now that a government report had proved that diversion of five crore buprenorphine tablets by Health minister Balbir Singh Sidhu to the drug mafia had increased addiction in Punjab, he had no business to remain in the cabinet and should be dismissed immediately. “A Punjab government report which has surveyed de- addiction centres found that as many as 17 per cent of the total 3.94 lakh patients enrolled in government and private de-addiction centres were taking treatment for buprenorphine addiction. There cannot be a bigger indiction that this. Now addicts want treatment from buprenorphine”.
Stating that all this proved that Balbir Sidhu was the king pin of the drug mafia in Punjab and that thousands of youth had become addicts due to illegal diversion of buprenorphine tablets under his watch, Mr Dhillon said a case should be registered against the Health minister. He said Sidhu was not only guilty of diverting tablets worth around Rs 300 crore in the open market but also sheltered private centres which distributed the tablets recklessly to addicts at a high cost”.
Mr Dhillon said the State government should also order an independent inquiry into the case to buttress the investigation being carried out by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). “This issue was raised forcefully by the SAD in the Vidhan Sabha also but the State government is yet to take action in the matter”, he added.
The SAD legislative wing leader said the State government report had also revealed that buprenorphine tablets had not been distributed under medical supervision. “This is what the SAD has been claiming all along. This is also the reason for objections raised by the Principal Secretary, Health. The Health minister not only overruled these objections but stalled action against private de-addiction centres”.
Stating that immediate steps needed to be taken to regulate distribution of buprenorphine tablets due to their addictive nature, Mr Dhillon said the distribution should be made fool proof. “The tablets should be put under the tongues of patients as per prescribed norms under medical supervision only. All five crore out of 8.3 crore tablets which were diverted at the instance of the Health minister should be accounted for and action should be taken against all those responsible for this illegal diversion”. EOM