Year later, dope test scheme for govt staff fails to take off - Mandi Gobindgarh News

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Monday, June 10, 2019

Year later, dope test scheme for govt staff fails to take off


Year later, dope test scheme for govt staff fails to take off

Aman Sood

Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 9

The much-hyped state’s flagship programme started in July last year making it mandatory for government employees to take dope test at every stage of their service has failed to take off.

Many politicians, including Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh and his Cabinet members, had volunteered to undergo the test. A year after the announcement, the decision and orders to this effect are awaited and even the Police and the Health Departments are in a limbo on its status.

“We initially sent reminders and almost 100 officials in every district underwent dope tests, but the plan was discontinued without any formal orders,” said an official.

According to senior officials, the proposed plan and announcements by the government mentioned that all employees will be tested at the time of joining and then annually. On July 4, Capt Amarinder Singh had announced that all government employees would have to take an annual dope test to confirm that they were drug-free. “The move will make Punjab the first state to conduct a dope test, including on police personnel. The tests, will be done free of cost on all government employees, applicable from recruitment through every stage of service,” he had said.

Every year, over 15,000 drug peddlers are arrested and over 2 lakh addicts are treated. At present, the jails in the state have over 3,900 convicts under the NDPS Act and over 5,500 undertrials.

Sources said initially, a tender was placed for 5 lakh test kits to be used for employees and also for those applying for a weapons licence. However, the government did not issue any notification in this regard and the decision pertaining to testing officials never took off from the initial stage, they added.

A top official confirmed that the government wanted a committee of experts to be set up to discuss the implications. “The idea was to ensure there is a clear distinction between drugs taken as medicine and those taken as an intoxicant. There are a lot of people who take drugs on prescription and if they take the test, the result would be positive with unfair implications,” he added.

Talking to The Tribune, Additional Chief Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Satish Chandra said the plan was discontinued as no formal notification was issued. “Without a formal order, it was difficult to decide when an employee will be tested and when can another dope test be conducted. Also, we were unsure of the inclusion of the police and other departments under the plan,” Chandra added.

“We will take a decision on it soon. The plan was proposed last year and since I have taken over the department last week, I will have a look at the file first,” said Health Minister Balbir Sidhu. The CM was unavailable for comments on the issue.

Orders awaited

The plan was discontinued as no formal notification was issued. Without that, it is difficult to decide when an employee will be tested and when can another dope test be conducted  Satish Chandra, additional chief secretary, health 

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