Contracts of 50 district programme managers (DPMs) with the National Rural Health Mission (NHRM) in Madhya Pradesh were renewed on phone in 2010 against the procedure, revealed a right to information query recently.
The contracts should be renewed or new contracts signed after a set procedure which involves a performance appraisal, sources said.
NRHM director BN Chouhan said, “This year, we have seen their performance and have given them appraisal after testing their potential, what happened in the previous years is not in my knowledge.”
Activist Pradeep Khandelwal said he had sought to know about the progress of the NHRM in Madhya Pradesh through an RTI application in 2013. However, the reply revealed that the contracts of the district programme managers were renewed on telephone conservation between Bhopal chief medical and health officer Deepesh Verma and the joint director health SK Saxena in 2010. The RTI documents are with HT.
Khandelwal said, “I was shocked to know that these managers were working only on verbal renewals which don’t exist on paper. They were given transfer orders also. I also found out that no provision was made in the budget for their salaries. I wonder how they were being paid their salaries for the past seven years.”
Health department sources said the contracts of those who fail the performance appraisal might be terminated.
A district programme manager’s duty includes providing overall managerial and administrative support to the NRHM programme through a district health society. For this, they are paid a salary of Rs 23,000–Rs 25,000 per month.
A rough calculation shows over Rs 10 crore was disbursed as salary to these district programme managers in the past seven years under, Khandelwal said, adding that there is no documentation of these salaries in the previous budgets.
Even health minister Narottam Mishra was caught unawares.
He said,“I will check whether the renewals were done on paper or not. I am not aware about this issue of NRHM in particular but will investigate when I return to Bhopal.”