The Telegraph
Saturday , July 12 , 2014
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Allowance lens on docs

The finance department is keen to know how many quarters at the doctors’ colony near Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) are lying vacant and why.

In a missive sent last week, officials at the finance department asked their counterparts at the health department to prepare a list of vacancies at the doctors’ colony.

Sources said the department’s “curiosity” was not only about well-being of government doctors, rather the step was a part of efforts being taken to plug loopholes to improve financial health of the state machinery.

A rough estimate suggests out of around 300 doctors’ quarters, currently over 80 are lying vacant. Again, of about 350 doctors at the RIMS, over 100 doctors are staying in rented flats or houses.

As per government rules, doctors, who do not get official quarters, are entitled to claim House Rent Allowance (HRA). A doctor is entitled to get Rs 4,000 per month, while a senior medico can claim Rs 6,000 as HRA from the government.

“Now, what the finance department wants to know is when there are vacant quarters at the RIMS colony, why so many doctors are not staying there or not allotted official accommodation,” said a finance department official.

Sources said there were many doctor couples and both the partners were government employees and thereby eligible for HRA.

“There are a number of cases where each of the couple claims HRA even though the couple stay together. As per rules if two government employees are a couple and staying in one accommodation both of them cannot claim HRA. Similarly, if they have been provided with official accommodation, then none can claim HRA,” said an another senior official.

He added once the list of vacant quarters arrived, they would seek details of HRA disbursement and their beneficiaries.

Speaking to The Telegraph, deputy secretary (health) V.K. Singh said: “We have received a letter from the finance department and are finding out the exact number of vacant quarters. We will hold a meeting with RIMS management to find out how the vacancies can be filled up.”

Asked about the HRA issue, Singh said, “I am not aware if doctor couples are living together and drawing HRA. If it is happening, then it is illegal.”