SECURITY GUARDS FOR DOCTORS LEAVE POOR IN LURCH
Mumbai: Five government facilities write to director of Directorate of Medical Education and Research, saying they have been forced to turn poor patients away after paying out of their pockets to clear salaries of security personnel. Five government hospitals in the state have shut their doors to the poor, owing to the state’s ill thought-out plan to provide doctors exclusive security cover at 13 healthcare facilities. Swami Ramanand Teerth Rural Government Medical College and Hospital in Ambajogai, Government Medical College in Latur, Dr Panjabrao Deshmukh Memorial Medical College and Hospital in Amravati, Government Medical College and Hospital in Akola, and Shri Vasantrao Naik Government Medical College in Yavatmal have made this alarming admission in a letter to the director of the Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER). They said their personal ledger accounts dried up in January because of payments made to security personnel, leaving no money for the care of poor patients. The other eight facilities — Sir JJ Group of Hospitals in Mumbai, Indira Gandhi Government Medical College and Hospital in Nagpur, BJ Medical College in Pune, Dr Vaishampayan Memorial Government Medical College in Solapur, Government medical College in Chandrapur, Government Medical College in Nanded, Government Medical College in Jalgaon, and Government Medical College in Aurangabad — have very little funds left. Daily collections from the outpatient department — a fee of Rs 10 a patient — surgeries and room charges as well as donations are used to fund personal ledger accounts of state-run hospitals.
These accounts have to be used only to treat poor patients, buy emergency medicines in the event of mass casualties, or perform urgent repairs of machinery used in operation theatres or blood banks. But a year ago, this rule was violated. Following the agitation of over 4,000 resident doctors across the state in March last year — demanding better security in the wake of a spate of attacks from patients’ families and attendants — the Bombay High Court ordered the state government to increase the number of security guards at hospitals. A month later, the DMER issued a circular stating that 800 more personnel were being recruited from the Maharashtra State Security Corporation (MSSC) for 13 hospitals. Here’s where the plan went haywire. The state finance department has failed to sanction the salaries of the 800 guards. In the absence of funds from the department, the DMER was forced to ask hospitals to dip into their personal ledger accounts. A senior doctor from the Latur hospital said as per the practice, if a hospital diverts money from its personal account for other purposes, the government has to reimburse it immediately. “What we saved up over years has been spent in just a year”. A doctor from the Akola facility said a majority of the patients there lives below the poverty line. “We have to ensure that all of their treatment is free. Now, we are being forced to ask them to pay. We have cleared around Rs 1 crore for MSSC guards’ salaries”. A senior doctor from the Yavatmal hospital said the facility has had to divert money from its personal ledger account for the time for other purposes. “We have seen emergency situations in the past. Last year, more than 200 farmers suffered toxic chemical exposure after spraying pesticides on their cotton crop.
We had to use the personal ledger account to buy emergency medicines for them. If such a situation arises again, what will we do?”. A senior doctor from JJ Hospital said the facility has to pay around Rs 20 lakh a month to its MSSC guards. “We stopped payments in January after we realised that very little money was left in our account. If there is a large-scale disaster, how we will manage?”. St George’s Hospital, which functions under JJ Group of Hospitals, said it has paid Rs 1crore to its MSSC guards over the past year. The DMER has thrown up its hands. Dr Pravin Shingare, director of DMER, said Rs 10 crore has been paid in total from the 13 hospitals’ funds to the 800 guards. “We have to make payments of Rs 8 crore. We can’t remove these guards wing to the HC order”. He admitted that personal ledger accounts cannot be touched for purposes other than those intended. “But, what other option do we have? We haven’t received any money from the state finance department. It has told us it is still figuring out the budget for these new guards, and that it will soon give the sanction”. Sources said this year’s state budget had no mention of an allocation for the 800 MSSC guards’ salaries. DK Jain, additional chief secretary, (finance), however, claimed that there is enough money to make the payments. “Such payments are usually made from office expenses. The allegation that we are not willing to clear the salaries is incorrect”.
Rs 6 lakh jewellery looted from shop
New Delhi: A gang of armed robbers attacked a jewellery store in northwest Delhi’s Shalimar Bagh and fled with valuables worth Rs 6 lakh on Saturday. The incident happened at 2pm at AB block of Shalimar Bagh. The showroom owner, Pravesh Arora, told police that there were seven people in the shop, including his brother and workers when three people wearing helmets entered. They wielded pistols and threatened to shoot him and the workers, Arora said. They pushed the people to a corner as two of them collected jewellery and cash in their bag. After collecting the valuables, the men fled on their motorcycle, he said. Arora later informed the cops about the incident following which a case under sections of robbery and Arms Act was registered. Police are scanning the CCTV footage from the area and inside the shop to ascertain the identity of the accused. Details are also being sought from the transport department about the registration of the motorcycle.
Balloon in Air India plane’s engine causes emergency landing at Delhi’s IGI
NEW DELHI: In a bizarre incident, a Srinagar-bound Air India flight returned to Indira Gandhi International airport on Sunday morning to make an emergency landing after a balloon got stuck in one of its engines. The flight with 188 passengers on board, however, landed safely, said officials. The incident took place around 10.30am with the Airport Operation Control Centre (AOCC) informing about the emergency landing, soon after flight AI 825 had taken off from IGI. Officials said that clearance was given by air traffic control and within minutes, the plane landed back safely at the airport on runway 28/10. “The emergency was terminated at 11.14am with all passengers landing safely. The Delhi to Srinagar flight which had departed at 10.20am had to land back after a balloon got stuck on one of the engines,” said an official. Flying objects coming in contact with a plane is often a hazard, which forces airlines to make an immediate landing, a majority of which are bird-hit related incidents. Officials said the passengers were deboarded and taken to the destination in another flight soon after. AI’s flight from Amritsar to Delhi had recently been in the news after a video, which surfaced online, showed a window panel falling off due to severe turbulence. Three passengers were reportedly injured and the turbulence continued for several minutes, resulting in chaos on-board.
South Zone traffic police hold mega awareness Mela
HYDERABAD: Hyderabad South Zone Police organized a mega traffic awareness programme on Saturday. Addressing the gathering, City Police Commissioner Anjani Kumar said the city has been recognized as one of the best in the country and urged local motorists to become role models for others by following traffic norms. “For the last three years, the fatal accidents ratio has come down. Almost 25 per cent of road accidents are fatal, however, people following traffic laws will ensure that this hurdle will be solved. If you people cooperate by obeying traffic laws, then within a short period of time old city will emerge better than new city. For that your(people) cooperation is necessary,” said Commissioner Anjani. However, Traffic additional Commissioner Anil Kumar expressed concern on the rise of traffic violations by minors, and said that parents would be accountable if any minor was involved in accidents. He urged parents not to encourage their kids to use vehicles. South Zone Traffic DCP Tajuddin Ahmed told TOI that more than two thousand people participated in the awareness programme and a photo exhibition was also conducted to educate violators of their responsibility. “The traffic police have also organized a license Mela in which certain applicants were also issued learning license on the spot. The programme was successful and more like would be held in coming days to educate people towards traffic norms and help to make the hurdles and accidents free city,’’ DCP Tajuddin told TOI.
Security upped on Marina to keep protesters at bay
Policemen deployed near Marina Beach on Sunday
CHENNAI: The usually crowded Marina wore a deserted look on Sunday as police threw a tight security blanket around it to keep out protesters demanding the constitution of the Cauvery Management Board (CMB). Anticipating demonstrations by various outfits, police deployed at least 3,000 personnel along the roads leading to the Marina. On Saturday, a single judge of the Madras high court had directed the city police to grant permission for a fast on the Marina but a division bench of the court stayed his order within a few hours following an urgent writ appeal preferred jointly by the home secretary, director general of police and commissioner of police. Entry to Wallajah Road from the beach was blocked after 3pm and vehicles from Anna Salai were diverted at Bells Road to join the beach. Vehicles were denied entry to the service lane along the beach from the morning until 7pm. However, parking was totally blocked on the stretch even after 7pm. Visitors were asked to park their vehicles near Bharathi Salai or Avvai Shanmugam Salai. Meanwhile, around 500 members of the Tamizhar Vazhvurimai Kootamaippu (TVK) staged a protest at Chepauk seeking the constitution of the CMB.
Heat surge: Over 160 emergencies every day
AHMEDABAD: It’s raining fire in the city. According to data released by EMRI 108, April 27 reported the highest number of emergencies in four days, at 170. The previous high was 183 reported on April 23. April 28, considered to be the hottest day of the season so far, recording 42.4°C, reported close to 100 emergencies till 5pm. “The pattern of emergencies has remained almost the same. If we take the example of April 27, abdominal pain (39) made up the highest number of emergencies, closely followed by unconsciousness (36), fall (33), fainting (19), vomiting (16), chest pain (12), dehydration (9) and blood pressure fluctuation (6),” said an EMRI official, adding that the cases are received even after evening. “Other major emergency, not reported in the day, is of ENT bleeding,” he said. Ahmedabad heads the tally of Gujarat’s four major cities. More often than not, the city alone reports more emergencies than the three cities combined. Officials said that there are two explanations. “There are 24 108 ambulances, the highest for a single city,” said an official. “Moreover, being the economic capital of the state, the city sees more activity during peak afternoon hours”. According to India Meteorological Department (IMD), April 27 recorded the temperature of 42.4°C which will climb to 43°on Sunday and is expected to remain stagnant till May 1. In Gujarat, Rajkot was the hottest city (43°C) followed by Gandhinagar and Surendranagar, both reporting 42.7°C.
3 killed, 8 injured in New York City house fire
NEW YORK: Three people have been killed and eight others injured in a house fire in New York City. The blaze broke out late Saturday night at a two-story home in Queens. An 82-year-old woman, an 87-year-old man and a 32-year-old woman all were killed in the fire. Eight other people were taken to area hospitals. Three, including an 8-year-old girl, are listed in critical condition. The other five are hospitalized in stable condition with injuries that are not believed to be life-threatening. On Sunday morning, three people including two children were hospitalized in critical condition after a blaze broke out in a Harlem apartment building, the Fire Department said. The causes of the fires remain under investigation.
Afghan children set off unexploded mortar round, 3 dead
KABUL: A group of children set off an unexploded mortar round in a residential area in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday, causing a blast that killed a woman and two children, according to provincial official. Attahullah Khogyani, spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar province, said another seven children were wounded in Sunday’s explosion. He said the mortar round had been fired by insurgents the night before but failed to explode. Afghanistan is littered with land mines and unexploded munitions left over from decades of war, which kill and wound hundreds of people every year. In Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar, a rickshaw loaded with explosives blew up near a mosque and registration center, wounding a policeman and six civilians, Khogyani said. No one immediately claimed the blast. Both the Taliban and an Islamic State affiliate are active in Nangarhar. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a bombing in Jalalabad on Saturday that wounded 12 people, including two traffic police.