NEW DELHI: A recent court order on the state of government hospitals in the city has sparked a war between the AAP government and Lieutenant Governor VL Saxena. In his letter dated February 3, Saxena wrote to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, expressing his “deep concern” over the “pathetic state” of hospitals under the city government, to which the CM responded that “insubordination and refusal” by two bureaucrats to obey their ministers’ orders has brought the city’s health system to this state.
He urged him to be the Finance Secretary and Health Secretary as they are responsible to the present health system of the state.
On Sunday, Kejriwal wrote to Saxena acknowledging the receipt of the letter. Kejriwal acknowledged assured that he had instructed the health minister to provide a detailed report on the current state of health infrastructure. However, he highlighted a longstanding issue regarding the Health Secretary, Deepak Kumar and Finance Secretary Ashish Verma. Kejriwal expressed dissatisfaction with Kumar’s performance, alleging inefficiency and a tendency to openly defy both oral and written orders from the health minister.
The latest tussle comes after the High Court’s remarks on the state-run Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital. The court last week pulled up the Delhi government while hearing 2017 public interest litigation on non-availability of ICU beds and ventilator facility in government hospitals.
The court said it wants to help the Delhi government in “fixing things”. “If you don’t give us the correct position, it is very difficult to help you. We are not entering into the blame game. Here (on paper) everything looks hunky-dory but on (the) ground people are denied admission,” said the bench.
Days after the HC’s observations, Saxena wrote to Kejriwal saying, “I am writing to express my disappointment and concern with regards to the pathetic state of hospitals under the Health department of the GNCTD (Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi).”
“Even as tall claims to the contrary have been made consistently by you and your ministers, recent media reports highlighting the scathing observations made by the Hon’ble Delhi High Court on the dismal state of affairs in Delhi’s government hospitals have brought to the fore a rot that seems to have become deep rooted,” Saxena said. “The city deserves a world-class healthcare system that prioritises the well-being of its citizens and not one plagued by systemic dysfunction and neglect, as the case is now,” Saxena added.
He also made references to media reports in connection with court cases related to Delhi government-run hospitals. “These issues are not merely administrative oversights; these are direct violations of the fundamental duties of the government, as indeed the fundamental right to health, and cast a long shadow of disrepute on the nation’s capital,” Saxena said. He also sought a “factual report” on the state of health infrastructure in major Delhi government hospitals.
He further said that “your government had inherited a fairly robust health infrastructure”, which is “enormously supplemented” by the health institutions run by the Centre in Delhi. “At the same time, there are ample funds available at your disposal, as indeed the best medical manpower in the city. Such a situation leaves little scope or space of inaction and failures and finding alibis thereto,” Saxena said.
‘Tendency to defy orders’
CM Kejriwal assured that he had instructed the health minister to provide a detailed report on the current state of health infrastructure. However, he highlighted a longstanding issue regarding the Health Secretary, and Finance Secretary. Kejriwal expressed dissatisfaction with their performance, alleging inefficiency and a tendency to openly defy both oral and written orders from the health minister.