Hospitals go Chennai way
A bypass to bypass the Bypass
Lalbazar sets a cop to catch a cop
School war on street smut
Salt Lake draws up safety letter for Basu
Gang of five in medical entrance scam
Rebel arrested in Jirighat

Faced with an exodus of patients from the city to other metros, private hospitals have come together to mount a drive to check this flow and drawn up an �emergency action plan� (EAP).

As part of the effort, the Advanced Medical Research Institute (AMRI) on Saturday approved a tie-up with Apollo of Chennai, a prime destination of patients from Calcutta.

The Association of Hospitals of Eastern India, which has among its members Calcutta Hospital, B.M. Birla Heart Research Centre, Kothari Hospital, Woodlands, Belle Vue, Peerless Hospital, Ruby General Hospital and AMRI, has been set up recently with the motive of keeping back patients by promising better treatment, better value for money and advanced technology. More hospitals from the state and eastern India are likely to become members.

According to a survey by the hospitals, at least 150 patients leave the city daily for treatment outside, and the figure is growing every day.

�It is a blitzkrieg operation that we have launched,� claimed S.K. Todi, chairman of the association and a partner of AMRI. �We at AMRI have signed a MoU with Pratap Reddy of Apollo Hospitals. Apollo will participate in the hospital�s management as well as bring in expertise and training.�

After six brainstorming sessions, the association members drew up the EAP which includes:

All member hospitals will become ISO-9000 compliant in each health service offered by the end of this year.

Some of the ISO health standard specifications are: in each ward, the space between beds should be a minimum of eight feet; medical waste disposal to be according to international norms; each floor of a hospital to have a workstation to monitor hygience and cleanliness; bi-weekly checks on all medical stocks to ascertain expiry dates and their general condition;

Experts from health facilities in Delhi and Mumbai will be brought over to train doctors and paramedics in super-speciality areas like gastro-enterology, oncology, neuro-surgery, cardio-thoracic surgery and nephrology;

Eminent consultants, doctors and surgeons from hospitals across the country will be brought over to either take up full time posts in member hospitals here or spend at least one to two weeks every month at these hospitals;

Doctors and surgeons already attached to member hospitals here will undertake orientation courses to improve relations with patients so that the trust and faith the people have lost in the medical system here can be regained.

In a memorandum presented to chief minister Jyoti Basu, the association has said: �We want to revive the past glory of Calcutta as a premier medical centre of the country.�

Member hospitals will procure state-of-the-art equipment and instruments so that latest procedures can be made available.

For instance, specialised equipment for bone-marrow transplant in treatment of blood disorders, neuro and cardiac surgery will be inducted.

Reciprocal arrangement between member hospitals will be introduced for multi-disciplinary treatment of complicated cases without any extra cost to the patients. For example, a patient being treated for a cardiac problem at the B.M. Birla Heart Research Centre will get free specialised consultancy from a nephrologist from Woodlands if the need arises;

A task force comprising representatives of member hospitals will be set up to review the implementation of all the measures under the EAP.

If the task force finds that a member hospital is not adhering to the stipulations set by the association for no apparent problem, the member hospital will be asked to leave the association.

�The main problem we have found is the lack of confidence of the people in doctors and medical services here,� said A.M. Mullick, vice-president of Woodlands and general secretary of the association. �To re-instil confidence, we not only require better equipment and specialist doctors but a vast improvement in work culture among the staff as well.�

To build up �patient confidence,� a seminar is being organised on March 24, at which existing facilities in city hospitals will be highlighted and the deficiencies addressed.

This will be followed by an advertisement campaign to �educate� the people on the benefits of undergoing treatment in the city and a comparative cost- benefit analysis would be made available.

Public grievance cells in hospitals will also be strengthened and public relations personnel here will be trained by professions in this field from other states.

�We shall also make sure that action is taken against touts who lure patients to hospitals in other states, especially in the south,� Mullick said. �There are quite a few of them who are making a packet doing this business.�

The association�s effort is being ssupplemented by a move take by retired government doctors who are working on improving medical education in Calcutta.

They are in the process of setting up a forum of like-minded physicians, which will create public opinion in favour of much-needed changes. The effort is being spearheaded by A.K. De, who retired in 1976 as professor and surgeon at Calcutta Medical College. Already 40 doctors, many of them established practitioners, have joined the forum.    

The Bypass is pass�. It�s now time to talk about a road that will help you skirt the Bypass.

With a construction boom sweeping the southern stretches of the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass and the two hospitals � Ruby General and Peerless � expected to add to traffic congestion, a bypass is now being carved out from beside Ruby to Bagha Jatin.

This �loop line� is meant to take the load off the five-km stretch between Ruby and Bagha Jatin.

The bypass, to be constructed at a cost of Rs 1 crore, will mostly be built along an existing narrow road, which will be widened to 60 feet.

But there will be some new stretches along the road, as well. The road, work on which has started already, is being constructed jointly by the Calcutta Municipal Corporation and the state transport department.

Transport experts, however, feel that this will be an �exercise in futility� unless traffic is regulated along the entire stretch of the EM Bypass.

�The entire Bypass should be widened to six lanes with two feeder lanes running on either side. The widened road would take care of the increased traffic in the coming years, while the feeder lanes will be used for the houses coming up on either side of the bypass,� suggested an official.

According to other experts, there should be very few entry and exit points along the Bypass to regulate traffic and ease congestion. �In western countries, if you miss one entry point, you have to go on for miles before you come across another. A similar exercise should be followed here,� said a transport official.

As far as the present plan goes, the new road, on the Bagha Jatin end, will be constructed along the bank of Tollygunge-Panchanna Gram channel of the state irrigation department.

Two members of the mayor-in-council, Kanti Ganguly and Sudhanshu Sil, along with representatives from Stup Consultants, visited the site last week.

Transport minister Subhas Chakraborty is said to have visited the site earlier, agreed to collaborate with the CMC and offered Rs 20 lakh for the project.

In the first phase, the proposed road between Jadavpur and Garia will be connected with the EM Bypass beside Ruby General Hospital. A concrete bridge will be constructed over the Panchanna Gram Channel in Anandapur at a cost of Rs 55 lakh.

Sil said the five-km stretch between Jadavpur and Bagha Jatin, to be widened in the first phase, will act as �a bypass of the EM Bypass�.

According to Ganguly, the extension of Metro Rail would terminate between Garia and Bagha Jatin and a flyover, to be constructed with Japanese assistance, will come up at Bagha Jatin. The bypass will be connected by an extension from the flyover.

�The eastern areas will soon witness a population explosion. A road running parallel to EM Bypass is urgently required. Delay in taking up the project will be inviting trouble on the existing Bypass,� warned Kanti Ganguly.    

Now, cops are being asked to chase cops.

Following an embarrassing expos� on Saturday, involving a sub-inspector of the traffic department who was caught red-handed extracting a bribe of Rs 2,000 from a harassed citizen, the city police have ordered an investigation to track down �corrupt senior officers� at the Lalbazar headquarters.

The cop, H.L. Singh, has confessed before deputy commissioner of police, headquarters, Nazrul Islam, that he keeps Rs 400 and shares the rest of the spoils with �senior officers� following such a �catch�.

The victim, this time, was the owner of a Maruti van, who was trying to reclaim his �papers� which had been seized following a minor accident on February 7 at Park Circus.

Singh had �entrapped� the man while he was running from pillar to post at Lalbazar to get the papers of his seized vehicle released.

Islam later told reporters that Singh refused to identify the officers. �They will initiate strong action against me if I reveal their names,�� he is said to have told the DC, headquarters.

The joint commissioner of police, traffic, V.V. Thambi, said investigations are on to find out which police officers are involved in the racket and how much money has changed hands.

�Investigators will also probe whether any IPS officers are involved in the racket,� a senior officer said.

Singh�s �confession� has already sent alarm bells ringing through the corridors of Lalbazar.

What has surprised many police officers is the fact that he dared to accept money �within a few yards of the DC, traffic, K. Harirajan�s office�.

There is talk that if Singh starts to drop names, several senior officers, including some from the IPS ranks, will be dragged under the spotlight.

When asked what will happen to Singh, Thambi said �the law will take it�s own course�.

Acccording to Lalbazar sources, a group of corrupt officers have formed a cartel in the traffic building of the city police headquarters. They keep a vigil over the counters where people with seizure slips queue up throughout the day.

In the absence of any information centre in the traffic building, people with seizure slips are forced to run from one counter to another. They prove easy prey for policemen who �strike a deal� and get them their papers for a �special fee�.    

A spate of complaints from parents and teachers of several prominent schools has forced the police to raid bookstalls in central Calcutta to stop �obscene and pornographic literature� being sold to students.

�Bookstalls on Park Street and Shakespeare Sarani were raided on Sunday morning, six people were arrested and 110 books seized,� said deputy commissioner Ranjit Pachnanda.

Complaints have poured in from the Assembly of God Church School, Loreto House, St Xaviers�, St Thomas� and Seventh Day Adventist Church School in the Park Street-Lindsay Street-S.N. Banerjee Road areas.

Sources said a group of parents recently met state deputy chief minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya at his Nandan office to complain that pornographic books were freely available in the heart of the city.

Deputy commissioner (detective department) Narayan Ghosh has admitted that a gang is smuggling pornographic literature into the city from other states. �These books are printed and published in places like Gaya, Dhanbad and Delhi. I have informed my counterparts in these cities. In most cases, it was found that the addresses of the printer and publisher were fake,�� Ghosh said.

Detective department sources said more than 1,500 pornographic books and obscene pictures were seized, and eight people arrested, in recent raids. �I caught my child flipping through a pornographic magazine at night,� an anxious parent said, requesting anonymity. �On being questioned, he said a middle-aged man near his school carries them in a bag. My son bought it for Rs 25. Most of his classmates too have bought these magazines.��

The boy, a student of a Class IX in a school on Park Street, said: �We hide these books inside a hefty text-book in our bags. We take it home and go over it at night after our parents have gone to sleep.�

Assembly of God Church School principal L.W. Hartnett said obscene books were freely available on the Park Street footpath. �Police walk up and down the area regularly. I don�t why they have not taken any action,�� he said.

Although there has not been any instance of a student being caught with such material in class, they could �jolly well be taking them home,� said the principal. �Young minds are very curious about issues like sex that are not discussed openly at home. They easily fall prey to such opportunities,�� he added.

�How do hawkers have the audacity to sell pornographic books from the pavements right under the nose of policemen?�� demanded Richard Flynn, principal of La Martiniere for Boys.

Investigations revealed that magazines titled Eros and Private Life are displayed in popular roadside bookstalls on Park Street and Lindsay Street and near Regal cinema. They are priced at anything between Rs 25 and Rs 250.

Two book-sellers operating from the Park Street pavement, Siraj Ahmed and Ram Yadav, said such pornographic literature is the �hottest selling item�, with 60 per cent of buyers being schoolchildren. �We pay-off the police regularly to avoid raids. We are tipped off by our police source long before the swoop,�� explained Ahmed.

But now, the city police has said that the crackdown will continue till the streets near schools �are cleaned�.    

A week after taking over as deputy inspector-general of the Presidency range, Gautam Chakraborty has set about drawing up special security for Salt Lake.

A spate of dacoities plagued the township in recent weeks. The latest was on Saturday afternoon, when a gang of three entered the house of Partha Hazra in AE Block on the pretext of depositing a bag of cement. Hazra was not at home and his wife opened the door. Once inside, the gang threatened the family with sharp weapons and escaped after looting valuables.

Worried residents of HA, CG, AE and AK blocks now plan to write an open letter to Jyoti Basu.

DIG Chakraborty said officers investigating the case have got a clue and are working on it. �It was a gang of amateurs. There are several leads which suggest they knew Hazra and his family. We got some names and addresses and the officers are trying to track down the gang,� he said.

Residents were angry that the police was was not up to the task. �We have had several meetings with the police after a total of 11 dacoities over the past two weeks but neither were the criminals caught nor have the police been able to check crime,� a resident said.

�Police are harassing innocent commuters even as the criminals are having a free run in the area,�� another resident said.

Neighbours of the Hazra family said they came to know about the incident when the lady and the housemaid shouted for help after the dacoits escaped.    

Guwahati, March 12: 
A gang of senior medical students is writing the examination for entry into medical colleges in the state by proxy. Affluent candidates unsure of being able to get through the entrance test hire the gang to write the exam for them.

A member of the gang, who is a senior student of the Gauhati Medical College, has revealed its modus operandi in a taped conversation with The Telegraph on the condition that he is not identified.

�If you protect my identity, I will cooperate with you,� the student said at the outset. But he refused to divulge how much the gang charges for its �services.�

�Aami candidate janar original photo khon uthai tat aamar photo aatha lagai dio. Tar pasat competant authoritir signature to photo khanar uparat zal karo. (We replace the original passport-size photographs of the aspirants on the admit cards with our own photos and then forge the initials of the authorities.),� he said.

The admit cards are meticulously doctored. The original signature of the candidate countersigned by the examination controller of the Gauhati University on the admit card is also forged. �We tasted success in our first attempt itself in 1998 by securing admissions for three aspirants who had serious doubts about their ability to get through,� the gang member says.

�Those people were affluent. For them money was no problem. They did not hesitate to spend. We wrote the exams for them for a handsome amount.

�We make people believe that we have a good rapport with the authorities and so getting their candidates admitted is a cakewalk for us. But some of our attempts have been unsuccessful as in the case of Om Prakash Sharma in 1998 and Kishan Kumar in 1999.�

The gang comprises three senior students of the Gauhati Medical College who have been friends since their days in the Assam Medical College, Dibrugarh, and two others. Of the gang of five, four are originally from Bihar.

�They (the candidates) approached me to use my two years of medical knowledge to make easy money. I agreed to sit as a proxy candidate. We had tremendous trust in each other as all three of us have been intimate since our AMC days.� Two of the gang hunt for �clients� � aspirants for MBBS and BDS courses. �They usually help in tracking down the candidates. Sob kam hihat dotai karisil. Moi khali parikha diso. (These two arranged for everything, I only sat for the tests.)�

Though the gang operates �in a most professional manner,� the Assam government got suspicious last year when it entrusted the Assam Higher Secondary Education Council with the responsibility of conducting the entrance examinations to the three medical colleges in the state. Earlier, the examinations used to be conducted by Gauhati University.

(The university had asked the government to relieve it of the responsibility following the leak of question papers in 1998.)

Many students have remained silent spectators despite sensing that below-average students were using fraudulent means to get into medical college. The students also suspect the involvement of persons in authority.

Some students wanted the union to be active in busting the racket. �But even they (union leaders) are aloof and not getting involved. Nobody wants to jeopardise his career,� one student said. The outgoing general secretary of the medical college students� union, Pranab Baruah, said little could be done because of the lack of �adequate foolproof� evidence. He said the union had even isolated the gang members, but had to lie low �because it involves a big risk to target someone without substantial evidence�.

Another union member said one of the racketeers was always acting in a �suspicious manner�. �He used to keep text books of biology, physics and chemistry, which is unusual for a student already studying medicine,� he said. The insinuation is that the text books are needed to prepare for the entrance exam.

Another claimed he had actually informed the authorities. �One of us had twice telephoned the Director of Medical Education about such anomalies. But, instead of taking firm steps, he was interested in identifying who the caller was.�

However, the director, Atul Chandra Borah, feigned ignorance of irregularities in the admission process. �How can that be possible?� he asked, refuting he had ever received any such phone call.

The students are afraid they will be at the receiving end if they spilled the beans. �They are perfectly capable of hiring musclemen to settle scores. It is after all the rule of the gun in Assam.�

But a group of senior students claims it is �working on a strategy to expose the entire racket at a calculated risk.� They say they are �preparing a letter with circumstantial evidence� to be sent to the Medical Council of India.    

Silchar , March 12 
The police arrested a Muslim United Liberation Tiger of Assam activist from a jungle hideout near Jirighat in Cachar district.

Police sources said a contingent of the fifth battalion of the Assam police combed the dense forests between Jirimukh and Bashkhal and arrested Luku Mia. A pistol was recovered from him.

Mia has a few abduction cases pending against him. The police are trying to ascertain whether Mia has any links with those who abducted a cinema hall owner and film distributor Arun Das from Sonai near here last week.

The police have stepped up combing operations to trace Das, who has reportedly been taken to the Cachar-Manipur border by the abductors.

Bus terminus: The proposed Chiruikandi bus terminus project, 5 km from here , was formally approved by Assam transport minister Pradip Hazarika on Friday. Official sources said the project was grounded because of a dispute over the selection of a suitable site.

It was cleared at a closed-door meeting between development minister Shahidul Alam Chowdhury and the transport minister. It will be funded by the Northeastern Council (NEC).

The NEC has already released Rs 1 crore as the first instalment.    


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