The Patient Welfare Committee (PWC) of the North Bengal Dental College and Hospital (NBDCH) has decided to send a proposal to the state health department for a special audit to check utilisation of funds and other financial dealing during the tenure of serving principal, Dr Soumen Chakrabarty.
The decision was taken in the meeting of the committee chaired by its chairman Dr Rudranath Bhattacharya here on Wednesday. There have been allegations that Dr Chakrabarty suppressed facts like non-utlilisation of funds of Rs 20 lakh sanctioned by the department in 2016-17, and meant for buying books and journals for the NBDCH library.
The funds had to be returned this year. Dr Bhattacharya alleged that Dr Chakrabarty had also gone on a 15-day ‘paternal leave’ without the approval of the health department. PWC funds amounting to Rs 45 lakh have been kept untilised for the past five years, it is learnt. A plan to construct a G+4 building of around Rs 20 crore to house OPDs, minor and major operation theaters and other facilities, was made around five years ago, while a detailed project report was sent to the health department recently.
“It appears that such a lackadaisical attitude was meant to tarnish the image of the state government at a time when chief minister Mamata Banerjee has taken initiatives to upgrade the health system. It is an anti-government activity. The principal has suppressed important facts. Development funds were not used, and there has been utter negligence on the part of the authorities here.
Being the chairman of the committee, I came to know on Wednesday that there is Rs 45 lakh, but he did not inform me also. We failed to understand why the funds meant for the development of the institute cannot be utilised. We have decided to write to the deputy secretary of dental, health and family welfare, the assistant director of health services, dental, with the recommendation that a special audit be conducted to know the exact financial situation,” Dr Bhattacharya said.
He added that Dr Chakrabarty attended the meeting on Wednesday. “I told him that there was no point in attending the meeting when he was on leave,” he said. Dr Chakrabarty has been the principal for around five years now. Dr Bhattacharya said that the health department had given Rs 38 lakh to buy instruments in January this year, and that the funds have to be utlised within March. However, the management is in a fix and wondering how the funds could be utilized within such a short time frame.
Junior doctors and students alleged that classes are irregular, and there is a lack of books, lack of regular supply of medicines for patients, and lack of equipment for treatment of patients. The NBDC was set up in 1990 and upgraded to a hospital in January 2013. It has a capacity of 50 students and offers bachelors degree in dental surgery, conservative dentistry, oral surgery, oral pathology, paedodontia, prosthetics dentistry and orthodontia.
The Dental Council of India (DCI) had also raised questions on the lack of infrastructure here during its visits. Many believe the lack of basic infrastructure is the reason for non-introduction of the postgraduation courses here. The DCI approval is needed for the introduction of the courses. The president of the Progressive Junior Doctors’ Association (PJDA), NBDCH unit, Dr Soumyajit Khanra, said that despite serving memorandums, no progress has been made. The PJDA and the North Bengal Dental College Students’ Union led a deputation to Dr Bhattacharya too. When asked, Dr Chakrabarty put the blame on the accounts section and said he was not aware of the financial rules and regulations. “I act when I am informed and the files come to me,” he said, adding that he had taken leave as per official rules.