At a time when the city is reeling under a serious pandemic situation, the chief of the Pune Municipal Corporation’s (PMC) health department, Ramchandra Hankare, has requested a transfer to another city, citing personal health grounds.
“I have requested the state government for a transfer from PMC on health ground. It is pending and I have not received any communication from the state government on the request,” said Hankare.
The health officer was sent to the PMC from the state cadre on deputation in September 2018, after the government couldn’t find a qualified officer from the civic body eligible to fill the health chief’s post. In fact, the PMC had not had a full-time health chief since 2013, after which officers handling other departments were given additional charge of the post.
Hankare said his deputation was for three years and he would be completing two years of his tenure in the next few days. “I am ready for a posting in any other location as per the directions of the state government,” he said.
In July end, as the Covid-19 situation in civic areas became grimmer, the state government had appointed Nitin Bilolikar as a second health chief in the PMC. Hankare and Bilolikar were given different responsibilities for containing the spread of the infection in the city.
However, both officers went on leave last week, citing various reasons. Incidentally, Bilolikar is due for retirement in a few months.
In the absence of the two health chiefs, the PMC was forced to delegate their responsibilities to junior officers, even as the case count rose rapidly in the city. “In the current situation, there is a need for qualified and experienced medical officers to head the health department of PMC. In case Hankare’s request is accepted, tThe civic administration has urged the state government to provide alternatives to fill his post,” said a senior civic officer.
The officer pointed out that if a new civic health chief is again sent on deputation, that would mean the officer would need time to understand the working system of the PMC and the situation arising due to the pandemic. The health officer will also have to learn how the civic body functions, and all this would be in addition to the immediate task of controlling the Covid-19 situation on the ground.
The PMC is already facing shortage of staff in the health department, with all three posts of deputy health chiefs lying vacant for a long time. The five assistant medical officers, meanwhile, are being entrusted with multiple responsibilities due to shortage of personnel.
The civic body has already seen a change at the top, when its chief Shekhar Gaikwad was shunted out in July, and Vikram Kumar was appointed the new municipal commissioner.
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