PALAMPUR: All is not well in the state health department. Desite tall claims made by the Health Minister Rajiv Bindal that health services in the state are one of the best in the country, was only confined to his speeches and official files. The poor patients are still moving from pillar to post to get a free medical aid in the government hospitals.
The functioning of Rogi Kalyan Samitis constituted by the state government in various hospitals in the district have come under severe criticism as crores of rupees collected by these samitis from poor patients are not properly utilized, spent on the poor patients and accounted for.
It may be recalled that government had set up these Rogi Kalyan Smitis in the district and sub-divisional hospitals with an aim to generate funds to meet the day to day financial requirements of these health institutions. These samitis were authorized to collect funds from the patients who undergo any medical test, X-Ray, ultra sound scanning, surgery and other medical examinations in the hospitals. The patients had to pay between rupees ten to rupees 300 to these samitis on every test and these funds were supposed to be incurred on the welfare of patients and for the betterment of the hospitals. The Sub Divisional Magistrates of concerned sub-divisions were made the supervisory officials for these samitis.
It is most surprising that no proper rules and regulations were made by government to keep check on the functioning of these bodies. Even no provisions were made how funds collected would be utilized by the officials, resulting that most of SMOs in the district who collected these funds failed to maintain proper accounts. In many hospitals no body knew how much amounts were received from the poor patients and where it was spent.
Information gathered by this correspondent also revealed that the funds collected by these Hospital Kalyna Samitis had gone in crores in past few years. It is a matter of serious concern that utilization of these funds were not subject to any audit by the Accountant General of Himachal Pradesh or internal audit by the health department.
Therefore, concerned officials were at liberty to misuse the funds. In various hospitals funds amounting to rupees 30 to 50 lakh were received annually by the SMOs and the same were shown spent for the welfare of hospitals in one year.
However, the true picture is entirely different as many SMOs purchased luxurious items, furniture, fridges, sign boards and air conditioners from these funds, which is in gross violation of directions of the state government. Besides, huge amount were shown paid to architects and engineers and contractors.
Under government rules items exceeding rupees 2500 could not be purchased without calling open tenders, but these rules were not followed by the samitis and contractors and sub contractors were paid lakh of rupees. Besides, machinery worth lakh of rupees were also purchased by these samitis in gross violation of rules. Even no income-tax and sales tax was deducted on these payments made.
It is also learnt that in one of the hospitals in the district over rupees 76 lakh were collected by the kalyan samitis in past three years from the patients and these were shown spent on the welfare of the patients, construction of sheds, purchase of water coolers and other infrastructure. But today the situation is entirely different no such item is seen in these hospitals.
The defective policies of the state government in this regard and further resulted in rampant corruption in these institutions as the SMOs were blantatly misusing the funds and making purchase of those items which were neither required nor connected with the welfare of the patients.
A senior journalist from Palampur.