March 3, 2014 12:01:35 am
Over a fortnight after the transfer of former Health Secretary Keshav Desiraju, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad in a letter to Cabinet Secretary A K Seth accused Desiraju of having batted for a medical college denied permission by the Medical Council of India (MCI).
Desiraju’s transfer, widely criticised, was reported to have been a result of his opposition to re-entry of tainted former MCI chief Ketan Desai into the council. A group of retired IAS officers had written to the Prime Minister to look into possible role of Desai in the transfer.
Azad’s letter justifying the transfer accused Desiraju of overlooking MCI rules to recommend review of 14 cases where the council denied permission. “Little did he appreciate that review of MCI decisions by the ministry had become ground for complaints of corruption in earlier regimes,” Azad wrote in his letter sent on February 24, adding, “I understand Desiraju personally pushed this matter having been approached by promoters of a particular medical university and thus wanted the date of approval extended.”
Azad’s office said it could not offhand give the name of the university. Desiraju did not respond to phone calls and messages. An email to his official id went unanswered.
The minister also blamed Desiraju over a faux pas that came in the way of sending MBBS doctors to rural areas. “We held consultations to arrive at a consensus regarding one-year compulsory rural posting after one-year internship for those seeking admission to PG courses. Desiraju prepared a note mentioning duration of internship as 2 years in place of 1 year,” said Azad stressing this “created havoc” and sparked an agitation by young doctors.
He accused Desiraju of committing a serious mistake when he sent a letter to Unnao MP Anu Tandon informing her that Rs 337.87 crore has been released as first installment for setting up a nursing school in her constituency (when the entire project cost was Rs 10 crore). “You can well imagine the embarrassment caused to me as well as the MP when she approached me in August, 2013 for laying the foundation stone… only to be told by me that we do not have any central scheme for such a mega nursing project… I had to apologise on the Health Secretary’s behalf. I reprimanded Desiraju for non-application of mind following which he admitted his mistake,” Azad said. Sources close to Tandon said it was a “very small mistake”.
Azad said Desiraju had a casual approach towards the meetings and left it to his subordinates to participate in discussions.
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