“The philosophy behind the institute is fast changing,” said Dr Manoj Gupta, a consultant at Venu Eye Institute and Research Centre (VEIRC) in Saket.
Set up as a charitable hospital to help the poor, the eye centre in south Delhi is allegedly going into private hands. On Saturday 23 employees — including senior doctors, managers and junior staff - were allegedly shown the door without prior notice on Saturday.
Earlier in the week, services of three employees were terminated and nine were suspended. There are a total of 400 employees.
“After four big malls came up in Saket, land prices have increased by over 10 times. When this hospital started this place was just a village,” said Dr Gupta, who was one of the sacked employees.
“The management wants to shut it so that it can be sold to private hands,” alleged Supriya Gupta, ex-president of the institute.
Clearly, tension between staff and management of the 28-year-old charitable institute is affecting patient care.
In the last two years, cost of eye surgeries has seen a rise of 200 to 300 per cent. Free eye check ups and surgeries have slipped by over 25 per cent. And poor patients are at the receiving end of all this.
Medical superintendent Dr Sunita Lulla, president Surpiya Gupta and chief executive officer Dr Anil Tara were among those who were shown the door.
“There is complete goonda raj (lawlessness) inside. It’s impossible to work here,” said Vinod Ambavat who was also handed over his suspension orders recently.
“I have served this place as the diagnostics in-charge for 20 years and this kind of lay offs is completely uncalled for.” The board of directors of the centre, which include VEIRC secretary Tanuja Joshi, Jain TV owner and former Rajya Sabha MP J.K. Jain, vice president VEIRC Dr S.C. Gupta and several influential people, have hired men to prevent guards from entering the hospital premises.
This reporter and the photographer weren’t allowed to enter the hospital for the administrations’ version. Both Joshi and Gupta refused to speak when contacted on their phones.
The staffers have meanwhile sought intervention of Delhi Development Authority (DDA), which gave land at a concession to the institute. They have also moved the Supreme Court.