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Two AIIMS Bhopal Interns Walk 800 Kilometres to Delhi Protesting Lack of Permanent Director

Beleaguered by purchase anomalies, then director Dr Sandip Kumar had left the institution on May 21, 2015. Since then, AIIMS Bhopal has been operating without a chief despite the statute of the institution resting absolute power in the director for day-to-day functioning.

Vivek Trivedi | News18

Updated:May 13, 2018, 12:44 PM IST
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Two AIIMS Bhopal Interns Walk 800 Kilometres to Delhi Protesting Lack of Permanent Director
Dr Sant Guru Prasad and Dr Chandan Kumar Aryan are braving the scorching sun to travel around 35 km every day. They plan to reach Delhi by the end of the month.
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Bhopal: Braving the blistering heat, two interns from All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Bhopal are walking about 800 kilometres from the Madhya Pradesh state capital to New Delhi.

The medical interns are demanding a full-time director for the institute, the lack of which has lowered the standard of the premier institute.

Beleaguered by purchase anomalies, then director Dr Sandip Kumar had left the institution on May 21, 2015. Since then, AIIMS Bhopal has been operating without a chief despite the statute of the institution resting absolute power in the director for day-to-day functioning.

The central government did appoint Dr VK Sharma, a senior physician from AIIMS New Delhi as the director in 2016 but he refused to join.

“In specialised services like Stem Cell bank, renal or liver transplant and emergency services like Trauma centre, the institution lags behind despite being the premier healthcare institution,” said Dr Sant Guru Prasad, one of the medical interns and a graduate of AIIMS Bhopal, who is on foot-march. He is accompanied by Dr Chandan Kumar Aryan.

“Even if we approach the administration for petty problems like defunct water dispenser in hostels, we are told to wait until the in charge director Dr Nitin M Nagarkar visits Bhopal,” said Prasad. Dr Nagarkar is the director of AIIMS Raipur and has held additional charge of AIIMS Bhopal over the last three years.

Dr Nagarkar, however, only visits Bhopal once in a while, claimed the medics.

“The absence of a permanent director has crippled the administrative and healthcare system of the institution. We have been pushing for a full-time director in the last three years but to no avail,” said Dr Prasad.

The medic further claimed that as against the sanctioned posts of 305 faculty members, the institution has only 137 posts filled. In terms of departments, only 35 of 43 sanctioned ones are functional.

The necessities in the hospital are such that against the sanctioned 27 operation theatres, only three are functional. So, anyone who wishes to get a surgery appointment has to wait for over one-and-a-half years because of the shortage.

“It might be some internal chaos that deters senior physicians from heading this institution,” opined Dr Prasad, when asked why no one was interested in leading AIIMS Bhopal.

Accompanied by two part-timers — Dr Suman Raushan and Dr Kartik Kedar — Prasad and Aryan are braving the scorching sun to travel around 35 km every day. They plan to reach Delhi by the month’s end to meet Health Minister JP Nadda and administrators from Prime Minister’s Office.

“We need to protect ourselves against this heat and take frequent water breaks to avoid dehydration,” said the medics, who started the march on May 3. They are claiming support of AIIMS Bhopal students and Residents Doctors Association of AIIMS, New Delhi.

The medics had protested before Union Health minister Nadda during his visit to Bhopal in 2016 and demanded a boost in infrastructure. The protest had mired into a controversy when an alleged outsider had thrown ink on the minister.

A city-based anti-graft activist Nagendra Saraswat, who had filed several PILs against anomalies in AIIMS Bhopal, accused the institute’s administration of flouting norms while appointing faculty members and other staffers.

“A Rs three crore MRI machine has been gathering dust for a while,” Saraswat said. “One of the medics was suspended when he had complained to PMO about anomalies.”

A civil supplier, who was associated with the institution, also claimed that the administration normally shifts the buck on a lack of a full-time director for slacking civil work, most of which are running behind schedule. “A portion of the main building, several labs and hostels are far from completion,” said the supplier.

According to him, the administration often remains engaged in intense infighting.

Despite all of this, Bhopal MP Alok Sanjar, also a member of AIIMS governing body, saw the brighter side of things.

“Over the last few years, the institution has taken rapid strides in improving infrastructure and amenities,” said the MP, adding that the mega-hospital had obtained quality physicians and faculty members.

“The process of appointments is going on,” said Sanjar, accepting that some demands of the students are justified.

He also accepted that the part-time director was avoiding taking any major decisions due to the temporary nature of his appointment.

The BJP MP, however, claimed that the process of appointing a full-time director was on in New Delhi and the institute could get a permanent director soon after Karnataka elections.

“I had told the same to the protesters but they were adamant on taking out a march,” said the MP, adding he would again talk to officers in New Delhi over the appointment on Saturday.

The AIIMS administration, while replying to a query of News18, claimed exemplary development in the institution over last three years.

“Infrastructure-wise, construction works of all the buildings (including Hospital, Medical College, Nursing College, Auditorium, Central Library, Hostels etc.) has been almost completed. The remaining civil works are nearing its completion. We faced certain roadblocks with the construction agency that had the responsibility to complete the work under Package 4 (Estate Services). This company has now been replaced with CPWD and the work is now progressing unobtrusively,” said the institute’s statement.

Saying they have recruited 135 faculty members, the institute claimed that soon the hiring drive would soon be underway again. “Super-specialty departments like Burns & Plastic Surgery, Cardiology, Cardiothoracic & Vascular Surgery, Endocrinology, Nephrology, Neurosurgery, Neurology, Paediatric Surgery, Pulmonary Medicine, Surgical Oncology and Urology have already started functioning in OPD/IPD,” the director’s office said.

“The acting director, Dr Nagarkar, has been visiting AIIMS Bhopal on a regular basis to supervise and coordinate various activities. Files are cleared daily, either physically or by digital technology as required,” said the reply forwarded by Dy Director (Administration) Santosh Sohgaura.

It also cited various awards and recognition conferred on the institute over the last few years. “All the complaints of the students are duly reviewed by the Administration, Deans and students are updated about the progress being made with regards to their complaints and problems,” maintained the institution.

“In any newly opened institute, there will be obstacles and challenges and one should be able to deal with a positive and optimistic attitude,” said the institution.

AIIMS Bhopal is one of the seven AIIMS apex healthcare institutes being established by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojna.
| Edited by: Aditya Nair
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