Cabinet Resolution Would Ruin Health Care: Cancel It

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Chief Minister Navin Patnaik, marked for onrush of anarchy to which his government has subjected Orissa’s health care time and again, has allowed his Cabinet pass a resolution on July 6 to bypass the Orissa Public Service Commission, the constitutional authority to select appropriately qualified Doctors for posting under the State Government, in appointment of doctors on ad hoc basis so that privately run dubious medical colleges gain seat selling environment for themselves by getting their alumni appointed in health care jobs in the public sector.

The resolution is cunningly crafted to help persons educated in dubious medical colleges, who, in OPSC exams, may never qualify for appointment as Government doctors.

Havoc played upon Health System

Loot of health-care funds brought on loans from the World Bank for implementation of Orissa Health Systems Development Project (OHSDP) is well on records. But Chief Minister Navin Patnaik, instead of taking steps to punish the culprits, had rewarded the two persons in charge of the health department when the loot was going on – the then Health Minister Prafulla Ghadei and Health Secretary R.N.Senapati – with the Finance portfolio that controls audits or investigations in the matters of financial offences and improprieties with inbuilt command over the administrative mechanism to initiate penal action against the offences or to render them inconsequential.

Environment created for misappropriation

The administration under Patnaik has forced poor patients to pay for treatment in Govt. Hospitals in the name of use of essential funds in health care. But in fact it is a trap to get more money for unbound misappropriation. On 17 January 2007, in these pages, we had shown how government auditors had unveiled misuse and misappropriation of at least Rs.2,09,79,509.00 within a period of around two years in a single Hospital, i.e. S.C.B.Medical College Hospital, Cuttack. The Government is yet not able to tell the people as to what action is taken for recovery of the involved amount and against the culprits involved.

Aborted official conspiracy

Looters of public exchequer, who operate under the guise of NGO, had used the Patnaik Government to take over Government Hospitals. The conspiracy, first resented to by Loksabha member and editor of Dharitri Tathagat Satpathy, was exposed in these pages on 1 February 2007. Government was put on leash; but the modus operandi remained undismissed.

Post fixing

We have often exposed, as for example our posting on 24 January 2009, in these pages, how posting of Doctors are fixed on extraneous and illicit consideration in stark disregard to administrative propriety and essential necessities in health care sector. The practice is going on even now as Notification No.1702 and No1707 of 29 June 2010 shamelessly breathe.

Incorrigibly corrupt

So, despite change of persons in the chair of the Health Minister, the Government continuing under Chief Minister Navin Patnaik, continues to be incorrigibly corrupt in matters of health care.

Phenomenal rise of private Hospitals in Orissa during this period is because Navin Patnaik administration has ruined public sector Hospitals through continuous corruption as sampled above. Some of these private Hospitals have established Medical Colleges whereinto admissions are given on open secret bids to aspirants that are considered too deficient to get seats in Government Medical Colleges. How dubiously many private Medical Colleges run by purchasing corrupt officials of Medical Council of India doesn’t need any elaboration after arrest of Ketan Desai, then its President and his associates in a Rs.2-crore bribery case, by the CBI on 23 April, 2010. Desai had struck a deal for this amount with a single private institute called Gian Sagar Medical College in Patiala of Punjab.

Private Medical Colleges running in Orissa use Doctors retired on superannuation. No authority has ever examined whether or not they are of impaired faculty. No authority has placed before the public details of their infrastructure and facilities against expected minimum so that qualitative study of suitability of medicos graduating from there, may somewhat be possible to help the people decide if health care could be safely left in their hands.

But now the Government in shape of resolution in the Cabinet has created the environment of handing over health care to medical graduates from private colleges.

The Cabinet resolution is equipped with a cunningly crafted escape method. And, that is the method of ad hoc appointment with provision of regularization later.

Dubious method of ad hoc appointment

Ad hoc appointment is the ploy in practice in Orissa to settle deficient persons in government jobs behind the back of the Orissa Public Service Commission.

The OPSC has been crying in vain against this. This is being reflected in its annual reports. The Governor is the statutory authority to take action on reports of the OPSC. But such is the clout that no action is ever taken against any wrongdoer even after notes on how ad hoc appointments have been kept hidden from the OPSC for several years.
I will site two cases pertaining to department of Higher education. There was an IAS officer whose wife was a lecturer appointed on ad hoc basis. She had the requisite class in her Masters degree. But in the interview before the OPSC she miserably failed. She failed also for the second time. There was an official stipulation that if an ad hoc appointee fails to pass the OPSC test consecutively for three times, he or she should be permanently disqualified for the government job. The lady had no chance to pass the test in the third chance. So, she never appeared for the third time. She continued on ad hoc basis till regularized behind back of the OPSC. She is now a senior faculty and her husband is in a prestigious post. There was yet another case where the concerned person was a third class MA, which was below the requisite qualification for lecturership. The OPSC had refused to approve her ad hoc appointment on the ground of deficiency in qualification. Behind back of the OPSC she was allowed for a decade to continue as a lecturer till the Utkal University was tamed to condone her deficiency to create new grounds for the OPSC to allow her fresh appointment with effect from the date the University condoned her deficiency. But, in blatant disregard to OPSC advice, she was regularized with retrospective effect from the date of her first ad hoc appointment and was helped to supersede hundreds of properly qualified College teachers in bagging promotion to Senior Administrative Grade in Orissa Education Service. This was because, she was the sister of the wife of an IAS officer who retired as the State’s Chief Secretary.

Against this background, with IAS officers ruling the roost in Orissa administration with expertise in hoodwinking Laws and with self-centric politicians habituated in serving the interest of whosoever can afford to pay, ready to cooperate, there is no difficulty in understanding what for the Cabinet has resolved to bypass the OPSC in appointment of Doctors.

There should be no difficulty in understanding that unless the proposal to appoint Doctors on ad hoc basis is not instantly withdrawn, health care in public sector would be in total ruin.

Cancel the anti-people resolution

If Chief Minister Navin Patnaik himself is not involved with this foul play, he should review the Cabinet decision in this particular matter and use his prerogative to cancel the resolution for ad hoc appointment of Doctors.

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