The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Maternity home shut after civic change

Bansberia (Hooghly), Feb. 14: When the government is striving to rev up the state’s healthcare system, the CPM-controlled municipality here has closed down its 20-bed maternity home.

The World Bank had funded the construction of the maternity wing of the municipal hospital and it opened last April. A Congress-Trinamul Congress combine was running the civic body then. Trinamul pulled out of the alliance in August and the CPM formed the municipal board.

Among the first decisions of the new board was the one to close down the home. The doctors, nurses and attendants, who were on contract, were released.

Months after that, the Opposition Congress today threatened to launch an agitation against the municipal authorities, demanding re-opening of the home, which offered child-birth facilities at a modest charge of Rs 450.

The World Bank had provided Rs 50 lakh for the home. Now, the beds, operation theatre, surgical instruments and incubators are gathering dust.

The Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) used to pay salaries to the home employees as part of its agreement with the bank.

“When we ran the municipality, we offered services to the economically weak at a reasonable cost. Two doctors were paid Rs 11,000 each and three nurses Rs 3,500 each. The CPM closed the home without rhyme or reason. This has hurt local sentiments,” said Amiya Kumar Kundu, former chairman of the municipality and Congress leader.

“They closed down the home because it was set up during our tenure and the doctors and nurses were appointed by us,” Kundu said. The Congress has written to municipal affairs minister Ashok Bhattacharya about the shutdown, he added.

Chairman of the municipality and prominent district CPM leader Kanai Majumder said: “The doctors were irregular. There was hardly any patient. It became difficult for us to run the home. We also detected financial irregularities.”

Reminded that the CMDA paid the salaries, Majumder said: “It is immaterial who paid the doctors and nurses. To me it was public money that was being misused.” He added: “We will have to revamp the entire administration and recruit fresh doctors, nurses and other employees.”

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