KOCHI: In a shocking revelation, the annual audit report of the Kochi Corporation prepared by the Local Fund Audit Department for 2016-17 found paramedical institutes such as laboratories, scanning centres, X-ray centres, blood banks and eye clinics are functioning illegally in the city.The report which was released recently by the department says only 459 firms in the city function with valid registration; the rest have no valid authorisation of the civic body. Though the Kerala Municipal Act 1994 stipulates hospitals and paramedical institutions should hold a valid registration to operate in the civic body, these firms are making a mockery of the rule.
It is learnt the Corporation is also taking a blind eye towards the functioning of these illegal firms as so far they have not imposed a single fine. As per municipality rules, the civic body can slap a fine of Rs 5,000. The rules also say the civic body has the right to impose a penalty of up to Rs 1,000 for each day against such firms. "Even in the audit report of 2015-16, the names of unregistered hospitals and paramedical institutes are mentioned, but the Corporation seems to take a lackadaisical attitude. As per the present culture of the Corporation, anybody can start an institution and no will question it," said K J Antony, the opposition leader in the Kochi Corporation.
More shocking still is the fact the audit report also reveals the names of some well-known hospitals which are functioning without a valid license from the civic body. Major hospitals, such as Gowtham, Hestia, Jesus Hospital Karuvelippadi, West Side Hospital and Renai Medicity are yet to register with the civic body. The report also found a few leading clinics and hospitals have failed to renew the annual registration.
When contacted, Renai Medicity authorities said the existing registration is valid up to 2018. With the paramedical institutes continuing to function without registering and renewing the licence, the Corporation incurred a revenue loss of about Rs 15,000 in the last fiscal, the report says. The report directed the Corporation to extract the amount from the revenue officers who are responsible for the revenue loss. The report also said the responsibility lies with the health inspectors. "They should ensure that all such institutions operating in the area are registered with the local body," reads the report.
Though the Corporation passed the buck to the government for the revenue loss, it failed to give a clear explanation about the registration. "Earlier the government issued an order to not collect the fee from the paramedical institutes, but now they have changed the rule and asked again to collect the registration fee. This caused a confusion and delayed the process," said health standing committee chairperson V K Minimol. Minimol also said the Corporation has speeded up the revenue collection mainly from paramedical institutes.
Major health institutes not registered with civic body:
Pramod Dental Clinic
Ernakulam Scan centre
Kerala Ayurvedha Samajam
Alpha Hospital and Research Institute
West Side Hospital Pvt Ltd