New Delhi: The CBI on Saturday carried out fresh searches across 23 locations in Uttar Pradesh in connection with the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) scam.

The searches are being carried out across 12 districts including Lucknow, Kanpur, Varanasi, Meerut, Jhansi at the residences of health department officials of the state, who had held the posts of Chief Medical Officers (CMO) and Deputy CMOs, CBI sources said.

The agency had on Friday registered four new cases in connection with alleged embezzlement of funds under the Mission by the then CMOs in collusion with private drug suppliers to procure inferior medicines at exorbitant rates.

In its search operation on Friday, several people close to former Family Welfare Minister of the state Babu Singh Kushwaha accused in the NRHM scam-- were searched including Guddu Khan, they said.

The allegations are of gross irregularities and manipulation in award of contracts by CMOs to various private parties.

It has been found that there were group of private parties which were active in number of districts and through their influence on public servants procured contracts of huge amounts in various districts," Mishra said.

CBI has found in its preliminary enquiry that Mission Directorate of NRHM in Uttar Pradesh had received thousands of crores of rupees as funds between 2005-11 for running schemes like Mission Flexipool, Immunisation, Reproductive Child Health (RCH), National Blindness Control Programme etc.

Besides, funds for civil construction and upgradation of hospitals were also received by them.

"The funds under the said scheme were channelled to the respective District Health Societies of all the districts in Uttar Pradesh and were utilised by the respective CMOs/ CMO/ Family Welfare). The enquiry carried out so far has indicated that drugs/equipments supplied by these firms were at exorbitant rates and even of sub-standard quality," she said.