The Hindustan Times, a leading Indian newspaper, has broken a scam in the country's capital of New Delhi - relating to allotment of land to set up a cancer research institute at subsidized lease rates, but where no research is carried out at all, against the mandate.
The Rockland Hospital functioning in the Qutub Institutional Area carries purely on commercial lines and no research on cancer since it was set up in 2002.
While the state government says that a Foundation for Applied Research in Cancer (FARC) has been set up there, no such place exists. What occupies the land instead is Rockland Hospital — a corporate set up with competitive rates.
After an NGO pointed out the lapse, a committee was set up by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to find out whether the hospital was carrying out any research activity.
After inspecting the hospital on April 28, 2007, it was found that FARC did not exist at all. In the inquiry report, the inspecting team had stated that, 'prima facie no documentary evidence was produced of any research on cancer, at any stage since the inception of the hospital. Nor is there any FARC in this place'.
It was also pointed out that the hospital had not published any papers since inception nor did it have any manpower or infrastructure to support cancer research.
In their defense, the management of Rockland Hospital maintained the hospital had not taken grants or funds from the government and the issue was a closed chapter. "The inquiry committee has investigated the issue and the inspecting team was satisfied with our work. Ours is a small hospital and we are using internal resources to run it without depending on the government," said Dr KS Bhimwal, Medical Director, Rockland Hospital.
Hindustan Times says it is in possession of papers which show the Medical Superintendent (Nursing Homes) misrepresented the report, informing DDA that the hospital was indeed involved in research — the evidence of which could be collected at a later stage, MSNH reasoned with DDA.
The inquiry committee was then directed to 'reconsider' their report and review their findings.
When contacted, officials of the Directorate of Health Services (DHS) refused to comment. "This is a matter between the land-owning agency and the hospital. We have no involvement in this," said Yoganand Shastri, Delhi Health Minister.
A senior official in the Ministry of Health tried to excuse himself from the issue, saying, "Only the science and technology ministry is qualified to inspect papers on cancer research."