Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Cuttack, Jul 10:
We have heard of wells going missing in Odisha in the past. But this will take your breath away. In a case that certainly deserves a place in Ripley’s Believe it or not, a whole dispensary has gone missing in Cuttack city of all places!
A doctor and an auxiliary staff appointed for a dispensary run by Cuttack Municipal Corporation (CMC) are drawing their salaries every month, but no one has any idea where it exists!
The Homeopathy Dispensary in question is officially located at Deulasahi in Ward no. 7 of CMC. But no one is able to trace where exactly the dispensary is functioning from for the last two years. Even the CMC corporator from that area Ranjita Biswal has no idea about its location.
Biswal filed an RTI query on May 28 seeking information about it from the CMC. After lapse of a month and 11 days, she has received a reply to her query from the CMC authorities, which is equally surprising.
The facts stated in the reply say that following High Court directives on July 4, 2013, the Deulasahi Homeopathy dispensary has been functioning from the community centre at Shivaji Nagar in the same ward. Dr Devi Prasad Acharya is posted there as the Medical Officer and he is working there. It further says that following orders of the deputy commissioner of CMC on April 27, 2015, the attendant who was working there has been transferred elsewhere. All articles of the dispensary have been handed over to the record keeper on May 14 and the dispensary is closed. However, the reply doesn’t state the exact date on which the dispensary was closed.
It has also been mentioned in the reply that the Health department has not received the attendance details of Dr Acharya for the month of May and June. This means the CMC has no information on the whereabouts of Dr Acharya or his work for the last two months.
Biswal, while raising questions on such discrepancies in the data supplied by the CMC to her RTI query, has alleged that no community centre exists in Shivajinagar. She said ever since she got elected as a corporator in March 2014, no dispensary has been functioning in her ward. She claimed that right from the start she had apprised the Mayor and Commissioner on the issue and had raised the matter at the CMC council meetings.
Biswal said following repeated complaints, the attendant, who had been drawing salary sitting at his home all this while, has been transferred elsewhere hastily. On the other hand, despite the absence of the dispensary since last two years, Dr Acharya had been drawing his salary by giving his attendance at the CMC office. Neither has the CMC’s Health department taken any steps for opening the dispensary nor has it made any efforts to rehabilitate the doctor elsewhere.
Notably, this Homeopathy dispensary was opened at Deulasahi on 17 April 1996 from a rented building. Following disputes over rent in 2004, the dispensary was shifted to another rented accommodation at Dhobasahi in Deulasahi area. Rent issues continued here too and the landlord of the building locked the house when rent was not paid for a whole year. As a result, the dispensary was closed. The salary of the doctor too was stopped. Dr Acharya filed a case in the High Court challenging the order to stop his salary as well as closing down of the dispensary.
The court, in its order on July 4, 2013, directed the CMC to make the dispensary at Deulasahi functional and pay regular salary to Dr Acharya within a month’s time. Following the High Court’s order, CMC restarted the dispensary at Bangali Sahi post haste without making adequate arrangemenrs. Beacuse of the small accommodation and lack of allied facilities, the dispensary had to be closed down again. Since then nobody is aware of its location.