BENGALURU: As many as 2,752 doctors, paramedics and AYUSH medical officers were trained at Hubballi Health and Family Welfare Training Centre (HFWTC) in 2014, said official figures. However, the fact is that none of these 2,752 doctors or paramedics existed!
While the health department struggles to fill 1,400 posts in village health centres, it has lost National Health Mission funds to ghost employees. The revelation was made in the special audit report submitted last April, a copy of which is with Express. Despite the loss being pegged at Rs 4.31 crore, the department is making no efforts to recover them.
According to reports submitted by Hubballi Centre to the State Institute of Health and Family Welfare (SIHFW), 554 doctors got Basic Medical Obstetric Care training, 2,122 staff nurses and midwives were trained in skilled birth assistance, and 76 AYUSH medical officers were trained at the centre. But the claims were exposed when the audit team cross-checked the figures with attendance records.
There are four HFWTCs in the state — Mysuru, Bengaluru, Kalaburagi and Hubballi. On comparing the money released to Hubballi with other HFWTCs, it was observed that it was almost 10 times more (see table).
“That itself should have raised suspicions in the Bengaluru headquarters,” said an NHM official requesting anonymity.Of the total budget approved for SIHFW (Rs 20.98 crore), Rs 4.95 crore was released to Hubballi. But it covered only three districts — Koppal, Bagalkot and Haveri.
“The role of approving authority and fund releasing authority of SIHFW Bengaluru cannot be ignored,” the report observes.
The then Principal of HFWTC, Dr Manoli, and the director of SIHFW Dr A Aruna have retired. The audit team recommends criminal proceedings against those involved in financial irregularities but does not name them. It also recommends action against officials working during 2014-15 for non-maintenance of records. Two officials working during this period were AK Ramdurga and VR Goakar, first and second division assistants.
State NHM CFO Manjunath Swamy, when asked how funds are recovered from employees in financial irregularity cases, said, “If the indicted employee is still with us, their salary, PF and gratuity can be withheld. In case of retired employees, properties can be attached.” Health Commissioner Subodh Yadav who is the disciplining authority, said, “I have never come across this issue. I’ve asked for the file to be put up immediately.”
National Health Mission director Rathan Kelkar did not respond to repeated queries from Express.
Principal Health Secretary Shalini Rajneesh promised to look into the issue. Health Minister KR Ramesh Kumar could not be reached on this issue.