Srinagar: Dr Showkat Zargar, former Director of Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), Soura, and officers of various SKIMS departments are under the scanner of the Vigilance Organisation, which has begun a probe into embezzlement of funds in purchase of machinery equipment.
Official sources told Kashmir Reader that the Vigilance Organisation Kashmir (VOK) has initiated the probe into a multi-crore purchase scam in the Department of Radiation Oncology during the tenure of former Director Dr Showkat Zargar.
“The Vigilance Organisation (Kashmir) has sought details from current Director SKIMS about the purchases made in 2012. The purchase of a linear accelerator was initiated in 2012 in the Department of Radiation Oncology,” the sources said.
As per an official communication, the VOK said it is conducting an inquiry into corrupt practices adopted by officers/officials of SKIMS Soura.
“During the course of investigation it was revealed that the process of purchase of fresh linear accelerator had begun in 2008 and supply order was placed in favour of M/S Varian Medical Systems, Switzerland, vide number: SIMS 324-124-2014-Eq-986-72 on March 31, 2012,” reads the VOK letter dated May 5, 2018, addressed to Director SKIMS.
The letter sought documentary information regarding the process of purchase of the linear accelerator and reasons for delay in the delivery of the machine.
The linear accelerator was delivered on a turnkey basis against an approximate cost of about Rs 13.75 crore, as per official sources.
Linear Accelerator (LINAC) is a sophisticated device used to treat patients suffering from life-threatening diseases like cancer. It is used to treat all parts/organs of the body with great precision.
“These treatments can be designed in such a way that they destroy the cancer cells while sparing the surrounding normal tissue,” said an oncologist.
He said that the equipment was the first-of-its-kind in any government health centre of Jammu & Kashmir government. According to him, the aim of procurement and installation of this sophisticated technology was to further improve the quality of cancer treatment in the state.
However, SKIMS administration delayed the process for more than 10 years, as the procurement process was initiated in 2008 when Ghulam Nabi Azad was the Health Minister.
“The technical specification of the linear accelerator was framed and prepared by the faculty members of the Department of Radiation Oncology and Department of Radiation Physics and Bio-Medical Engineering till 2008. The construction for the housing of the linear accelerator was started by February 2013 and the equipment was delivered at SKIMS by October 2015,” sources said.
They said the installation was started in January 2016 and the commissioning of the equipment was completed by March 2016. Patient treatment started by August 2016.
“The complaint received against the officers and former Director SKIMS, Dr Showkat Zargar, is of serious nature, which is why we are gathering all details from the present administration,” said a VOK officer privy to the investigation.