In a major violation of rules and regulations, the Cantonment Board—taking care of all the commercial setups in G B Pant Hospital—is surprisingly not inviting fresh tenders for the possession of medical shops operating within the premises of valley’s lone childcare hospital, from the last several years.
As per set guidelines, there has to be a retendering process after the lease period of 3 years is over, however, according to the sources, no retendering process has taken place from last several years.
“The Board has allotted two shops that sell medicines, running within the premises of the hospital, even after their respective lease period is over, they are not being directed to close the shops and even the board is not issuing fresh tenders for the pursuance of these shops,” the sources said.
“After the lease period is over, it is extended without giving any details, or inviting fresh tenders regarding the same,” the sources said.
There is even a cry of foul play regarding the tendering process, as the sources reveal that “the concerned individuals in the Board are making sure that the shops are allotted only to those whom they want, and not giving other’s inline, a chance to take part in the tendering process.”
Pertinently, former Direction Estates Officer (DEO) of Cantonment Board, Ajay Kumar Chowdhary was suspended in 2011 in J&K Defence Land Scam case. Chowdhary’s name had figured in the land scam during his stint as DEO in Srinagar when no objection certificates were allegedly issued illegally to land mafia.
Earlier, questions were also raised on the location of these shops within the hospital premises. The shops are situated at what was supposed to be the main entrance of the hospital, however, a different spot was chosen for the entrance, later.
When the matter regarding issuance of fresh tenders by the cantonment board was brought into the notice of Medical Superintendent, G B Pant Hospital, Dr. K. K. Pandita, he said that the hospital has no say in the commercial matters of the Board, however, he was quick to add that “if there are any complaints that these shops, or any other shop in and around the hospital of being involved in selling substandard medicines, or any other issue, we can take the action and we have done so in the past.”
The hospital administration had sealed one among the two medical shops operating within the premises, last year, for allegedly selling substandard drugs, and the shop remained sealed for 9 consecutive months.
However, as per the sources, “the case is still on in the court, but it came as a surprise when owner of the shop managed to get the orders to resume operation.”
Interestingly, children’s hospital was earlier operating at Hazuri Bagh, and was then shifted to Sonwar in 2005. The land for the hospital was provided by the Board, while the government funded its construction.
There is another issue that has cropped up with the construction of these shops at a particular spot within the hospital premises, as per the sources in the hospital: “the location where the shops are situated was decided to be the space for the Fire and Emergency Station. However, the decision to construct the station could not materialize for ‘unknown reasons’.
Currently, there is no system in place in the hospital to tackle the incidents of fire and emergency, as there is no Fire and Emergency Station functioning in the hospital.