SKIMS officials purchased hi-tech machine but not ‘on paper’

SKIMS officials purchased hi-tech machine but not ‘on paper’
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Srinagar: The Vigilance Organisation probe into embezzlement of funds at Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) Soura has revealed that the institute violated guidelines, apparently to benefit higher officials, while making purchases worth crores of rupees.
“The Vigilance investigation has so far revealed that SKIMS Soura has delayed the installation of multi-crore Linear Accelerator (LA) machine purchased in 2012. On paper, the officials are yet to accept the machine from the Company, M/S Varian Medical Systems, Switzerland. It has kept both the parties legally unaccountable and left the machine without use for many months,” official sources told Kashmir Reader.
“The machines remain defunct because the management has violated annual maintenance contracts,” they said.
According to them, SKIMS authorities had shortlisted the company without checking its track record, which gave it a free hand to violate norms.
“The machine has been supplied without accessories and other items, which make it useless to cater to the huge rush of patients. To save themselves, the institute officials have not finalised signing of the contract with the company, leaving the machine officially ‘non-existent’ even though it has been delivered in October 2015,” a senior Vigilance official said.
Last week, the Vigilance Organisation Kashmir (VOK) raided the Department of Radiation Oncology at SKIMS Soura and interrogated officials accused of fund embezzlement in the purchase of multi-crore equipment for cancer patients during the tenure of former director Dr Showkat Zargar.
According to official sources, the sleuths of VOK raided the Radiation Oncology department and confiscated the purchase documents of machinery equipment including the Linear Accelerator.
“Director SKIMS has recently submitted his reply about the purchases made in 2012 after Vigilance asked him for the details. But his reply was not satisfactory, which led to the raid,” official sources said.
VOK’s inquiry into corrupt practices by officers of SKIMS Soura was initiated following a complaint accusing officials of delay in the installation of the Linear Accelerator for monetary gains.
The Linear Accelerator was delivered on a turnkey basis against an approximate cost of about Rs 13.75 crore, as per sources. The SKIMS administration had delayed the purchase process for more than 10 years as the procurement process was initiated in 2008 when Ghulam Nabi Azad was the Health Minister.
Linear Accelerator (LINAC) is a sophisticated technology 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.
Head of Department, Radiation Oncology, at SKIMS, Dr Maqbool Lone, admitted that there was a delay in the installation of Linear Accelerator and it has remained defunct many times during its requirement. However, he denied allegations of corruption.
“There is nothing like corruption involved in the purchase. The delay was due to various intricacies of the purchasing process,” he said.
“We have now solved the issue to a large extent. But, there are some formalities which the (Swiss) company has to fulfill. That will allow us to complete the contract process with the company,” Dr Lone said.