Naturopathy colleges in web of graft sans rules in Tamil Nadu

Colleges have unqualified principals as they flout HC direction to follow UGC norms till proper rules are framed
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express Illustration

CHENNAI:  Lack of guidelines and oversight has left the administration of the yoga and naturopathy educational institutions run by the state government in disarray and allegedly mired in graft. This comes at a time when the demand for yoga and naturopathy courses is growing in leaps and bounds as students are showing keen interest in learning the system of preventive and curative medicine through natural methods.

Unqualified teachers, excess monetary benefits and irregular appointments and promotions are some of the issues plaguing these institutions. The principal accountant general, in a 2021 audit, found that 10 faculties at the Govt Yoga and Naturopathy College (GYNMC) at Arumbakkam, Chennai, were availing of excess monetary benefits worth Rs 2.3 crore through irregular appointments and promotions, resulting in loss to the exchequer. The principal, holding the post since 2000, tops the list of such beneficiaries.

In October 2022, the principal accountant general wrote to health secretary P Senthil Kumar suggesting action against the irregular appointments, promotions and availing of excess pay and allowances. But the files are still gathering dust without any action, it is learnt. When contacted by TNIE, Senthil Kumar only said, “A detailed reply has been sent to the accountant general office at Teynampet, Chennai.” However, he did not elaborate further.

The Madras High Court, while hearing petitions on the matter last year, had directed the concerned authorities to follow UGC rules for appointment of faculty until proper rules are framed, but the order seems to fallen on deaf ears. “We are following the old rules and guidelines of the state government for appointments,” said Dr Manavalan, GYNMC principal.

GYNMC, established in 2000, runs a course in Bachelor of Naturopathy and Yogic Sciences with 60 seats and three branches in post-graduation having 15 seats. However, the college does not have department heads who have a post graduation degree as those having diploma and UG are heading most of the PG departments. Even principal Manavalan has only diploma and degree qualifications.

“It is unfortunate that even after securing PG degrees, we are not recognised as PG teachers or posted as HoDs. We have taken up the matter with the concerned authorities of the government but no action has been taken so far,” said an aggrieved faculty member.

Manavalan also holds additional charge as director of the newly established International Institute of Yoga and Naturopathy Medical Sciences at Chengalpet, which has 100 UG and 30 PG seats. The college does not have a full-time principal, affecting day-to-day administration and handling of academic matters.

Doctors point the fingers to the principal for the mess. “He is not qualified to hold the post of principal. However, he has managed to hold two more posts by tweaking the rules and scuttling chances of an efficient hand to helm the affairs by exerting influence,” alleged Dr Indran, a private practitioner.

That’s not all, as 17 private yoga and naturopathy colleges are having a free run without a regulatory body.
The Directorate of Indian Medicine is learnt to have sent a report to the government seeking urgent attention on the issues and necessary action to recover excess pay and allowance from the faculties, apart from streamlining appointments. “We have brought the issues to the notice of the government. We hope necessary action is taken soon to resolve them,” an official at the Directorate of Indian Medicine told TNIE.

Manavalan added that the findings of the principal accountant general’s report are not true and that a new head will soon be posted to the Chengalpattu institute.

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