A startling revelation has been made by the State’s top public health official that the Health Department vehicles are being hired out for “personal use.”

This disclosure was made by Director of Public Health K.Kulandaisamy, who said he was a “witness” to government vehicles being “hired out” to people for visiting temples and other places. “I saw an official vehicle belonging to a primary health centre (PHC) near a temple. To my shock, I overheard some persons who used our department vehicle saying that the Rs.50 collected from them was very meagre,” he said.

Sources told The Hindu that the Director of Public Health stated this at a review meeting of National Rural Health Mission (South Zone) held at the Collectorate on Saturday, which was chaired by Additional Secretary (Health) and Project Director of Tamil Nadu Health Systems Project P.K.Bansal.

“When I went to a temple, I saw a Tempo Traveller belonging to our department,” Dr.Kulandaisamy said.

The Additional Health Secretary cautioned the Deputy Directors and other staff to not allow such things to happen in the future. This issue came up when the officials were reviewing the implementation of Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram which provides for free entitlements to pregnant women and the newborns. Free transport from home to hospital and to referral hospitals is one of the features of this scheme. Special fund is allocated by the government to buy fuel for vehicles which would be stationed at the PHCs.

The number of pick-up and drop cases was small at a couple of PHCs in the district, and the Block Medical Officers said old and worn-out vehicles were not in use and some others were stationed at workshops.

Dr.Kulandaisamy said in several places the doctors and staff were not available in their workplaces. Mr.Bansal told the Deputy Director of Health Services of Madurai district S.Senthilkumar to redeploy the vehiclesto make sure that the pregnant women and newborns got free transport facility.

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