Wednesday, January 22, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Once prestigious, now under cloud
Varinder Walia and Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, January 21
The prestigious Ram Saran Daskishori Lal Kakkar Charitable Hospital, which had rendered yeoman service to injured police personnel during militancy days is now in the eye of storm due to the multi-crore kidney scam.

When former Indian Youth Congress president M.S. Bitta, was brought to the hospital in a critical condition after an assassination attempt, a militant outfit had threatened to blow up the hospital. But the management did not bow to the pressure.

The hospital shot into limelight when Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee visited Mr Parkash Singh Badal, former Chief Minister, who was admitted here after a fracture. Despite the government hospital Mr Badal was advised to undergo treatment in this 82-bed multi-speciality hospital before he was flown to New Delhi.

However, the kidney scam has brought disrepute to the hospital which had been authorised by the state government for kidney transplant in 1993. About 2,400 kidneys transplant operations have been conducted in the hospital.

A few days before the arrest of its eminent transplant surgeon the Health Department had given the extension for continuing with organ transplants.

The manager of the hospital, Mr Hardyal Mehta, has already deposed before the special investigation team and corroborated the allegations that huge sums of money was exchanged for conducting the operations.

A visit to the hospital revealed that many patients who had come here for kidney transplants already left. During its heyday one kidney transplant operation took place daily. The recipients used to come from abroad also.

However, the staff of the hospital is now busy, in sorting out the old files of the past 10-12 years as these have been sought by SIT. A hospital insider said the staff would have to rummage through more than 70,000 files to sort out the files pertaining to kidney transplants.

It is pertinent to mention that the hospital had been exempted from income tax under Section 80-G for running it as a charitable institution.

However, the management of the hospital refused to be dragged into any controversy claiming that they were ignorant about what was going on in the hospital.

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