AIIMS gets a chief after 8-month pause

Eight months after Dr P Venugopal retired from AIIMS,Dr Ramesh Chandra Deka,Head of the ENT Department,was appointed new director of the premier institute on Tuesday.

Written by Teena Thacker | New Delhi | Published: March 11, 2009 12:16 am

Candidature initially shot down by PMO,‘Ramadoss’s pick’ Dr Deka takes over

Eight months after Dr P Venugopal retired from AIIMS,Dr Ramesh Chandra Deka,Head of the ENT Department,was appointed new director of the premier institute on Tuesday.

Health Secretary Naresh Dayal told Newsline that the ministry received the order to appoint Dr Deka from the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) on Monday. Acting AIIMS director Dr T D Dogra handed over charge to Dr Deka at 3 pm today.

“I am taking over in difficult times as the institute is involved in various controversies,” the 61-year-old ENT surgeon told Newsline. “My priority would be to focus on treatment facilities and ensure our patients get the best of facilities.”

Seen as Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss’s choice,Dr Deka’s name was shortlisted soon after the process for choosing the new institute director began last year. The Health ministry had received nearly 70 applications for the post,including those of NRI doctors,and shortlisted Dr Deka’s name by September last year.

The journey,however,was anything but easy: faculty members approached the PMO and asked for its intervention. The PMO,in time,shot down Dr Deka’s name as there were complaints of financial irregularities against him. Besides a vigilance inquiry,the faculty had complained that Dr Deka had not followed rules while purchasing cochlear implants between September 2005 and April 2006.

It was observed that advance payments were made to private firms for huge amounts without any bank guarantee. In another case,whole purchases made by the department were allegedly found fake.

Many faculty members were also not happy with Dr Deka’s numerous foreign trips in 2005-06 — there were allegations that some of them were personal visits.

But the Health ministry does not find these cases objectionable. “When the Institute body gave a final approval to his name,we obtained vigilance clearance from the requisite agency,” Health Secretary Dayal said. “Besides,once a person is chosen for such a post,normally such charges are not given cognizance.”

He said Dr Deka’s tenure will be for next five years,or till further orders are issued.

Meanwhile,many faculty members are not happy and may move the court.

Over 3 decades at AIIMS
Born in 1948,Dr Deka graduated from Guwahati Medical College,Assam,in 1969 and came to AIIMS for his MS (ENT) in 1973. He joined Kasturba Medical College,Manipal,and Jawahar Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research,Puducherry,before returning to AIIMS in 1981.

Speaking to the media after his appointment,Dr Deka said: “When I came to the institute as a post graduate student I never even dreamt that I would one day head this institute. This is a matter of great pride for me. The biggest challenge for me would be to bring people together and turn the focus back to the centre of excellence that this place is.”

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