Reported by Kshitish Ray
Bhubaneswar, Mar 11:
An RTI query has exposed how the high and mighty of Odisha have been denting the state exchequer for non-payment of dues towards availing health services.
A fraction of VVIPs of the state have been using the ambulance services, though as part of their protocol, without paying the expenses incurred on the services for over a decade and a half.
The bills, thus, generated for ambulance services provided to VVIPs including chief minister and Governor of the state have been left unrealised to the tune of Rs 25 lakh between 2000 and 2015.
As per the protocol, the Capital Hospital here provides the ambulance services to the VVIPs of which five to six ambulances are included in chief minister’s motorcade during his visit to public functions.
As per the details in possession with OST, the hospital has spent 1182 litres of diesel in 2009-10 and it went up to 2714.5 litres in 2012-13. While the diesel expenses stood at Rs 41,000 in 2009, it was Rs 1, 11, 525 in 2012-13. Besides, five ambulances were used in Chief Minister’s carcade in 2009 and subsequently it went up to six during 2012-13.
In all these years, the Capital Hospital has been footing the bills from its users’ fee account, as confirmed by the audit report of the hospital.
While the matter was pushed under the carpet, the matter came to the fore after the general secretary of a social organisation ‘Ama Adhikar’ Ganesh Das sought information through RTI on use of ambulance and its funding by the hospital.
As per the norms, the Home department or the district collector pays the bills for the services. However, none of them have paid heed to it.
“It is mandatory to provide ambulance for the Chief Minister and the Governor. We have sent three letters recently to the Home Department to pay for the expenses. However, we haven’t received the money yet. We don’t raise bills for the ambulance used by judges or other VIPs as it is considered departmental duty,” said Director of Capital Hospital Biswa Bhusan Patnaik.