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RIMS gasps for cash lifeline

Ranchi, Jan. 15: Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), the state's premier health care centre, is on the verge of a financial breakdown as it is yet to get its budgetary allocation for the current fiscal.

Health secretary Shivendu admitted that the situation was extraordinary, but said efforts were on to ensure that the allotment reaches the institute at the earliest. In the meantime, we have asked the Rims administration to divert funds from other heads as a loan to meet day-to-day requirements of the institute, he said.

Rims spends about Rs 5 crore per month on different heads of which Rs 1.25 crore goes towards salary.

The government allotted Rs 58 crore under the non-plan head and Rs 11 crore under the plan head to Rims for the financial year 2005-06. However, the institute has so far not got a single paisa though the current fiscal comes to an end in about two-and-a-half months.

?As a result of the non-allotment of funds, the services in the hospital have deteriorated badly. There is an acute shortage of essential drugs, food items, vegetables, milk, equipment and other facilities, which is ultimately affecting the poor patients, said a senior RIMS doctor on condition of anonymity.

He said suppliers are backing out. Citing an example, he said the agency which provides X-ray plates has stopped supplying since RIMS owes it Rs 20 lakh. The result: patients are having a tough time in getting their X-rays done outside the hospital.

Two days ago, the doctor said, relatives of a patient had a tiff with the Rims staff as they were asked to get the X-ray done outside.

Another doctor told The Telegraph on condition of anonymity that they were finding it difficult to carry out the operation in the absence of basic facilities. The operating theatres (OT) are in a shambles. At times we find there is no cotton gauge in the OT. There is a shortage of emergency medicines as well, he said.

Rims director Jagannath Prasad said the administration was somehow managing its day-to-day affairs by diverting funds earmarked for other projects like development of super-speciality wings or auditorium. About Rs 15 crore has been diverted so far from the funds meant for setting up super-speciality centres of neuro-sciences, cardiology, urology and oncology to meet the crisis. The money will be reimbursed once the budgetary allocation reaches the institute.

Sources in the finance department said the money has been cleared, but the file is pending with chief minister Arjun Munda, who holds the health portfolio. Munda could not be contacted for comment.

A senior official in the finance department said: ?The budget for Rims was cleared by the department in July last year itself and sent to the health department. So there is no hurdle from our part. Chief secretary P.P. Sharma, the chairman of the governing body, was unavailable for comment.

An official in the finance department, however, said all efforts were on to ensure that the money reaches the institute soon. ?We have allotted the funds for the institute and hope they will be able to draw it next week, he said.

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has demanded a year?s full budget back-up money to Rims to tide over the crisis. An IMA delegation led by state secretary Ajay Kumar Singh met Munda last week and demanded that sufficient funds be made available to the premier institute.

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