A century old, prestigious institution of the country has become an easy prey of multinational companies. Government of India'sCentral Research Institute (CRI) at Kasauli, famous for its research and manufacturing of vaccines world over, is at the verge of closer. Its license has been suspended by the ministry of health. It is obvious that now the huge market of vaccines of DPT, typhoid and yellow fever etc. in the country would fall in the hands of MNCs. And all credit goes to the UPA government at the centre. Around 750 employees including scientists and technicians are in the state of deep shock.
This institute also runs courses of Microbiology from graduation to doctorate level. Prof. Prem Kumar Dhumal, chief minister of Himachal Pradesh, has described the situation as ?grim, uncalled for, and unfortunate?. He has decided to write a letter to the union minister of health for his immediate intervention to sort out the problems and to ensure that the institution is not closed.
According to an official who does not want to mention his name, CRI manufactures vaccines and medicines and makes supply of worth 20 crore to the government on very low rates. That was the main cause of worry of MNCs.
On January 24, the Drug Controller of Himachal Pradesh issued an order to stop production in the institute by saying that he has received a letter from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) with information that the production license of CRI has been suspended. The sources said that the Drug Controller of H.P. also stopped the supply of the medicines by CRI to the government till further orders. In the present circumstances, the huge market of vaccines would be in the hands of MNCs. They were annoyed with the CRI for a long time as it was a big hurdle in their way to capture the market of vaccines.
The sources at CRI said that in August last year, a team of Drug Controller Authority of India had visited the institute to inspect the infrastructure and other facilities on the campus. The team, at that time, had raised questions on the basic infrastructure of DPT vaccine department and observed that it was not up to the mark as per the good manufacturing practice (GMP). The institute has sought two years time to remove the objections and an estimate of Rs. 55 crore for the purpose was also submitted. But before it could take the remedial measures, a show cause notice was issued on December 22, 2007 and there after orders to stop production was passed. The sources said that when the proposal to remove objections was pending with the government, the proactive role of DCGI was not justified.
One more thing, sources said, very interesting has come to surface that the building constructed to expand DPT vaccine department had prior approval of DCGI. This was completed in 2004 with a cost of Rs. 14 crore occurred on it. But during an inspection by DCGI team, this building was not found as per the GMP rules. Now the officials on the campus smell some conspiracy in it and blame the ministry for it. It is said that eighty per cent demand of DPT vaccine is met by this department only and now private players were happy.
Shri Naresh Atri, President of CRI Employees Association said that there was no logic behind the suspension of the license of whole institute when the fault was said to be on the part of one department only. According to him, the idle employees would be a burden on public exchequer and the poor people of the country would be exploited by the MNCs. He expressed fear that the situation may lead to the closure of the institute.
Prof. Prem Kumar Dhumal, chief minister of Himachal Pradesh, while contacted by Organiser said that he was going to write to union minister of health for immediate intervention. He said it was a serious matter and needs to be solved immediately as it could badly affect the common masses of the country. It is an institution of national importance and the health ministry should take all corrective measures to save CRI, he added.
It is pertinent to mention that this prestigious institution had celebrated its century in 2006. Since its inception, it was indulged in high level research in the field of vaccines and medicines. This institute has been famous for its production of anti-venom medicine, anti-rabies injection, anti-tetanus vaccine and many other important vaccines and medicines. About 750 employees of CRI are in shock. They fear that the policies of the government would harm their future badly. No senior official of the institute was available for comments.