Ranchi, Feb. 23: Jharkhand owes a private hospital Rs 1.11 crore for treating CRPF and state security personnel injured in anti-Naxalite operations till date, with bills pending across 16 districts, but no one knows where the money is stuck.
Apollo hospital, in Ormanjhi, about 18 km from the state capital on NH-33 (Ranchi-Hazaribagh road), has been in the spotlight in the wake of the brutal January 7 Latehar rebel ambush. It is also where seriously injured security personnel are routinely sent.
But whether there is a government or President’s Rule in the state, hospital bills for injured jawans get pushed under the carpet of nobody’s responsibility.
An official of the hospital, in Ormanjhi, about 18km from the centre of the capital on NH-33, said of the Rs 1.11 crore, Rs 25 lakh was for a tenure before December 31, 2009, while Rs 86 lakh was due between January 1, 2010 and February 22, 2013. The sum would have been more, but retired director-general of police Neyaz Ahmed paid Apollo Rs 30 lakh around two years ago, taking “personal initiative”, the official added.
Hospital spokesperson Javed Ansari, armed with district-wise split of dues, said collecting payment was cumbersome, to put it mildly. “The bills are sent to districts through concerned police superintendents (SPs). But once sent, we have to keep tabs and make our own efforts to collect the money,” he said.
The Telegraph, on the bill trail, saw the complete absence of a consolidated payment system.
Ideally, the SP, civil surgeon (CS) and deputy commissioner (DC) of each district must sit down together and approve the bills payable to the hospital. Then, the DC must release the amount and get it reimbursed by the state home department.
That doesn’t happen.
Apathy and ignorance apart, there are practical snarls such as bureaucratic transfers that force the process to start from scratch and introduce high-level confusion over payment modalities.
For example, Ansari said the bill of Ranchi district amounting to Rs 17.43 lakh had been sent to then DC K.K. Soan. Though the present DC Vinay Kumar Choubey stressed on “no delays”, he added: “I am not aware of the any pending medical bill at my office as no one has provided me with one so far.”
Palamau district, which owes Apollo Rs 11.80 lakh, has another problem. Deputy commissioner Puja Singhal said: “To the best of my knowledge, the medical bill of CRPF personnel is paid through some CGHS (central government health scheme). But for the correct information, talk to the Palamau SP.”
Finally, it took Palamau DIG Praveen Kumar to clear the air.
The chief secretary orders every DC to hand out cash for treatment of jawans engaged in rebel combat from any fund immediately available and to later ask the home department to reimburse the sum. Kumar confirmed that a committee comprising the DC, SP and civil surgeon in each district had to approve the bill.
But on the delays, Kumar became less precise. “There are many reasons. Official formalities can take time,” he said.
Apollo spokesperson Ansari, who rattled off pending figures across districts — Ranchi with Rs 17.43lakh and Gumla with Rs 41,093 are the highest and lowest — is in for a long wait.