State

PIL challenges Kerala govt order allowing local bodies to fund CPM’s cooperative hospital- The New Indian Express

Express News Service

KASARAGOD: A division bench of the High Court of Kerala issued a notice to the state government on a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging a government order allowing local bodies to donate to a CPM-controlled cooperative hospital in Kanhangad.

BJP state secretary and former district president K Shreekanth moved the High Court calling the order issued by the Department of Local Self Government on March 16 “arbitrary, illegal and a colourable exercise of power”.

The government order said Kanhangad Cooperative Hospital needs financial help and the local bodies can donate from their ‘own fund’ for the cause, with the approval of their boards or councils.

The order continued to say that the district panchayat can donate Rs 1 crore, Kanhangad municipality can donate Rs 2 crore, the other two municipalities (Kasaragod and Nileshwar) and the 38 grama panchayats can donate Rs 50 lakh each, and the six block panchayats can donate Rs 25 lakh each.

To be sure, the slabs for the donation were fixed by the hospital management — a group of CPM leaders — and approved by the state government through the government order.

The New Indian Express front-paged this report on April 14.

Shreekanth in his PIL said the order was passed by the special secretary of the LSG Department without any study into the feasibility of the project or verification. He said the hospital society was registered in 2001 and was lying in limbo all these years and has become active only now.

If all the local bodies in Kasaragod district pitch in as per the slabs, the hospital would get Rs 24.5 crore. But if only the LDF-controlled local bodies decide to donate, the hospital would get up to Rs 14 crore.

The state government issued the order in favour of a cooperative hospital at a time when it has not yet implemented a 2017 Supreme Court judgment asking it to set up a centralised palliative care hospital in Kasaragod for endosulfan-affected persons, the petition said, “The state government has turned a blind eye to such request,” Shreekanth said in the petition.

He also raised the issue of Kasaragod district not having a tertiary care hospital. “The state government started construction of a medical college in the district way back in 2013. Till now, the work is not complete and in-patient facilities have not been provided,” he said and added that the primary and the secondary health care centres face huge inadequacies in infrastructure and maintenance due to the apathy of the government and lack of funds.

During the Covid lockdown, Karnataka closed its borders and the people of Kasaragod were left to suffer without getting medical help. “Due to such incidents, the demand for an AIIMS in the district has now become a full-blown agitation with even doctors taking part in it,” he said.

At a time when the state government should channelise every resource to public health infrastructure in the state, it is allowing public money to be splurged on a dead cooperative society, he said.

The chief secretary, principal secretaries of the Local Self Government Department, Department of Finance and Department of Health, and the secretary of the Kanhangad Cooperative Hospital are respondents in the case.

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