BHUBANESWAR: The State Government’s haste to send out a strong message on the intent and action-oriented bearing of the Mo Sarkar initiative seems to be setting off a chain of consequences that will ultimately impact achievement of programme’s goals.
Even as the well-laid out initiative is aimed at bringing transparency in administration and making the system accountable, thereby leading to grassroots-level transformation in the society, some recent actions under its pretext are working to the contrary. Strong resentment is brewing among public servants over the alleged “whimsical” and “hurried” action against some officials.
They have alleged that disciplinary action initiated against officials without following the rules and law and not allowing the “accused” of any opportunity to present their case has affected the whole workforce. It is bringing down the morale of officers and staff on the ground and creating an atmosphere of fear that consequently will hamper performance and productivity.
Three recent incidents have exposed the mis-steps of the Government. Take the case of in-charge Chief District Medical and Public Health Officer (CDM&PHO) of Sundargarh Dr Pankaj Patel. On October 13, Dr Patel was placed under suspension on charges of negligence of duty during a visit of a team of senior officials under Mo Sarkar programme.
The disciplinary action was ordered following allegations of patients being forced to get their pathological tests done outside the hospital and sub-standard diet being served to patients. While Sundargarh Collector Nikhil Pawan Kalyan was served a show-cause notice, Dr Patel was suspended for dereliction of duty.
However, the Government had to bow down and revoke his suspension order after 10 days following mounting pressure from Odisha Medical Services Association (OMSA), the State-level body of peripheral service doctors, and the opposition BJP. He has now been posted as senior consultant (Medicine) at Sambalpur DHH.
In another incident, Kendrapara CDM&PHO Urmila Mishra has held back the salary of Obstetrics and Gynaecology specialist Dr Himansu Bhusan Sarangi on Collector’s order. The action was taken after Collector Samarth Verma during his visit to the DHH noticed a report of ultra sound that was conducted at a private centre.
Though Mishra in her enquiry report clearly mentioned that the doctor had advised the patient concerned for ultrasound, he had not indicated the place where the procedure should be undertaken. In his wisdom, the Collector seems to have deemed the doctor guilty and ordered withholding of his salary.
In another case, Bonai Block Education Officer Binay Praksh Soy remains under suspension on the basis of a video clip that purportedly showed him eating chicken during a visit to a school, even though the allegation has turned out to be false.
Meanwhile, the OMSA has strongly protested the ‘whimsical’ action against the doctors. OMSA President Dr Nirakara Bhatta in a letter to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said such action without allowing the doctor concerned to submit explanation will demoralise the entire fraternity in service.
A Government official said disciplinary proceedings are must for taking action against any Government official and there is an elaborate procedure that needs to be followed before initiating any action.
“As per Article 311 of the Constitution, no Government officer can be punished unless an inquiry is held. The officer has to be informed of his charges and he/she would be given reasonable opportunity to defend himself in respect of the charges levelled against him. The procedure is not being followed,” he added.