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No austerity at AIIMS?

delhi Updated: Oct 02, 2009 01:30 IST
Jaya Shroff Bhalla
Jaya Shroff Bhalla
Hindustan Times
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Does the austerity drive initiated by the ruling government apply to the country’s premier medical hospital? Apparently not. Dr RC Deka, director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), has reportedly spent Rs 40 lakh of taxpayers’ money on renovating his official accommodation according to Vaastu recommendations.

In a reply to a Right To Information (RTI) query, the institute’s engineering department said Rs 40 lakh was spent on structural and cosmetic changes in the director’s bungalow, located on campus.

If you factor in landscaping and road surfacing, the actual amount spent is Rs 65 lakh, say AIIMS doctors who do not want to be quoted.

Hindustan Times, however, could not establish the excess amount independently as the reply to the RTI mentions only Rs 40 lakh.

Sources said the RTI information is yet to be made public.

“There is no fixed entitlement for renovations, a failing the director clearly exploited. Additional money was spent on landscaping and laying a new road, which was billed

separately to the horticulture section and road department,” said a doctor requesting anonymity.

The engineering department says it has nothing to hide.

“In this age of RTI, nothing can remain hidden and we have mentioned the amount spent on the refurbishing in the reply,” said B.S. Anand, superintendent engineer at AIIMS.

“I am not authorised to speak anymore on this.”

According to AIIMS sources, Dr Deka not only changed the building’s façade, he also altered the direction of entry to the bungalow by almost 90 degrees to suit Vaastu requirements.

New flooring, ceiling, sanitary ware, woodwork and painting also added to the cost.

“The amount should not include furniture as AIIMS faculty and staff are only entitled to an unfurnished residence,” said an AIIMS source, not willing to be quoted.

“The single-story bungalow is spread on 2,200 square feet. Even if the building had to completely torn down and built again, it would not cost the institute more than Rs 35 lakh,” he added.

Two many responsibilities

Seven months since he was appointed the director, Dr RC Deka continues to illegally hold two official posts in the institute.

After becoming the director, he should have given up his post as the head of the ENT department, which he has not.

Former AIIMS director Dr P. Venugopal had to step down as the head of the cardiology department after direction from the Delhi High Court on March 29, 2007.

“The director cannot hold two posts. After appointment as director of the institute, his post as professor is terminated,” a bench comprising Justice Swantantra Kumar and Justice HR Malhotra had said.

The health ministry had moved the court and a PIL was filed against Dr Venugopal holding two posts.

An AIIMS official, who wanted to remain anonymous,

said, “It is against the institute’s law to hold an administrative and teaching post simultaneously.”

“Dr Deka should have instantly given up his ENT headship once he was appointed director.”

HT tried to reach Dr Deka at work and at home for three days but he did not take or return the calls.

Sailesh Yadav, deputy director (administration) said, “I don’t have much information on this but from what I know, there are no professors in the ENT department to fill up Dr Deka’s position.”

“One of the ENT professors was supposed to get the charge, but he is on leave.”