M A I N   N E W S

Minister, AIIMS docs on warpath
* I will quit: Venugopal * Go ahead, says Ramadoss
Tribune News Service and PTI

New Delhi, June 15
The government and the prestigious AIIMS were today back on the warpath after the anti-quota stir with the hospital’s faculty accusing Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss of undermining the dignity of the institute and its director threatening to quit.

Mr Ramadoss, who is in Chennai, reacted sharply, saying the administration of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences had gone into a slumber and become ineffective. He also said Director P Venugopal was “free to resign”.

“He (Venugopal) doesn’t need to go around lobbying that I am going to resign,” Ramadoss said.

The trouble began after D S Moorthy, Officer on Special Duty to the Minister, sought the replacement of the AIIMS public relations officer, sub-dean and senior financial adviser, as well as action against its medical superintendent without taking Venugopal into confidence.

Terming the move as “undue and intentional”, the faculty said it was an attempt to undermine the prestige and dignity of AIIMS. The faculty demanded Ramadoss’s removal from the post of President of the institute.

Mr Venugopal told a press conference, “During the last two years there has been a systematic undermining of the institute and the authority of the Director. I am disturbed with the humiliation to the respect and dignity of my faculty, officers, residents, students and staff.

“It is my duty to ensure that legitimate interests of the institute and its functionaries are maintained...In case I fail in my duties to deliver as Director and to prevent the destruction of dignity and autonomy of AIIMS, I will not hesitate in leaving the chair.”

The Faculty Association of AIIMS issued a statement accusing Dr Ramadoss of “personally targeting AIIMS and victimising faculty members and other staff for vested interest and reasons best known to him”.

While they demanded his “immediate removal as President of AIIMS”, Dr Ramadoss denied the charges and said that his Ministry is not interfering in the day-to-day functioning of the institute but is trying to revive research, administration and management.

Dr Ramadoss pointed out that he had got a budget of Rs 500 crore for the institute and completed some of its long-pending projects.

The Faculty Association had yesterday sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s intervention to restore the autonomy of AIIMS. They demanded that AIIMS be governed directly by the President or the Prime Minister like a Central University with complete autonomy.

Meanwhile the students too have stepped up their protest over the government’s decision to withhold the salaries of those doctors who went on a 15-day strike has paved way for the campaign.

“The court had asked the government to refrain from any punitive action, yet the government has deducted our salaries,” Dr Lokesh, a member of the RDA told the Tribune.

He said: “If the Health Minister is keen to implement the no work, no pay directive, then they should be paying us extra because despite the Medical Council of India’s rule that no senior resident will work beyond 12 hours a day we put in more than that. Even junior residents have to put in more than eight hours a day, which the MCI has fixed for them”.

Taking a stern view of the strike, the AIIMS authorities had on Tuesday issued notices to resident doctors stating that they would not be paid any salary for the period they were on strike since no work was done. Resident doctors said the government had assured them that no punitive action would be taken against them for participating in the strike. 



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