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Doctor under fire for sneak vacation

Behrampore, Oct. 17: An inquiry has been initiated against the top medical officer of Murshidabad after he failed to show cause why he was missing from duty during Durga puja.

The district administration had issued a showcause notice to chief medical officer, health, Bijon Kumar Mondal for skipping office on two days during which four persons died of diarrhoea in Farakka.

District magistrate Manoj Panth has asked a deputy magistrate to probe the charges against Mondal and submit a report at the earliest.

“Mondal should not have left the district headquarters during the pujas because many people were falling ill from diarrhoea at the time. I have asked a deputy magistrate to probe the charge against him,” said Panth.

Health secretary Asim Barman said in Calcutta tonight the district administration has written to him regarding Mondal’s absence from duty without notice.

“The government has taken strong exception to Mondal’s attitude. The inquiry follows his unsatisfactory reply to the showcause notice,” he added.

Barman said Mondal should not have gone out of town when people were down with diarrhoea in the district. “We are awaiting a report from the one-man inquiry committee and action will be taken on its basis,” he added.

Sources in the district administration said Mondal was not on duty when Barman sought a report from Panth in connection with the outbreak of diarrhoea in Farakka on October 3.

Panth tried to contact Mondal for details on the outbreak but he was missing. He was at home in Garia near Calcutta. Mondal had left Behrampore apparently without informing his superiors.

Four persons died and more than 500 people took ill in flood-affected Arjunpur, Beniagram, Paikpara and Mahichpur in Farakka during the festival. A pregnant woman was bitten by a stray dog inside the district hospital during the same period.

“We are concerned over the act of negligence of an official as high in rank as Mondal in the health department. We wonder how he left for Calcutta at a time when people were dying here,” said an official.

When contacted, Mondal admitted that he was with his family in Calcutta on October 3 and 4.

However, he wouldn’t give a direct reply on whether he was served a showcause notice. “I am not bound to divulge details of official communication between the district magistrate and me. I can tell you we discussed health problems affecting the district during Durga puja,” he said.

Preliminary investigations have shown Mondal had left the town for Calcutta without informing his superiors on several occasions in the past year. “He was also found to have used office transport for some of his visits. Out of 15 trips to the city, on four occasions he attended official meetings at Writers’ Buildings,” said a district official.

A health department official said Mondal replied to the showcause notice three days ago. He had received it on October 6.

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