Country's premier super speciality hospital Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) lacked radiation safety measures till an application under transparency law Right To Information (RTI) was filed.
Ghayshyam of east Delhi filed an innocous application in July 2011 asking RML whether it has taken measures to provide safety to patients against radiation from medical machines as per the norms of the government.
The RML found it has not.
And, it couldn't have told Ghanshyam that it violates government rules. "The queries raised by the appellant (Ghanshyam) had some fundamental issues about radiation safety," the RML hospital told the Central Information Commission, in a reply to Ghanshyam's appeal.
His appliction stirred action.
The hospital took four months to comply with the government conditions including make the machines radiation safe and appointing a radiation safety officer under direct supervision of Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), top body on nuclear radiation safety.
"The Respondent admits that because of this RTI application the hospital was forced in to developing a proper system to ensure radiation safety. Answering these queries was very difficult since some of the necessary processes did not exist and a committee was setup which has taken appropriate corrective steps, a radiation safety officer has been appointed in the hospital with the approval of AERB," the hospital said in a written reply.
Once that was done, a detailed reply was given to Ghanshyam.
That did not deter him for seeking penal action RML officials for not providing the information in time.
The hospital's candid admission was enough for Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi to drop penalty charges and observed that the hospital had rightly taken the RTI application and the questions it posed to correct certain vital deficiencies in procedures.
"The Commission would like to congratulate the public authority and the appellant for using this great democratic tool in the positive manner. In view of this the penalty proceedings are dropped and the matter is closed at the Commission’s end," his order read.
There are many other government hospitals, which fail to comply with radiation safety norms. Another RTI application by Rahul Verma of Uday Foundation had found that most of the hospitals in India don't comply with radiation safety measures prescribed by AERB.