Under attack for removing whistleblower IFS officer Sanjeev Chaturvedi as AIIMS chief vigilance officer, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan on Saturday said various forms of corruption exist in central hospitals and efforts are on to end the “systemic and symptomatic” corruption.
Defending Chaturvedi's removal, Vardhan said his designation as the CVO was opposed by the Central Vigilance Commission in 2012 and 2013. And by removing him, “I therefore did my bit to restore the image of the CVC,” he said in a statement in New Delhi.
The minister said he was aware as a doctor that corruption exist in hospitals, from allocation of beds to kickbacks from suppliers. “In my first 90 days in office, hardly a day has passed without inquiring into the transparency of the ministry and its outposts. Soon, the results are going to be in the public domain,” he said.
The statement further said Vardhan has placed all systems in central hospitals, including AIIMS, “under critical review to end systemic and symptomatic corruption”. “If money is made in the allocation of beds or as kickbacks from suppliers, it is sleaze,” he said, adding that what is equally corrupt is the silent practice of reserving beds and facilities for employees or VIPs.
Vardhan, while regretting that a political slant was given to the “re-profiling” of Chaturvedi's job, said, “he has neither been suspended, nor transferred”. The health minister claimed Chaturvedi's appointment as CVO, by disregarding the CVC's directives, was “part of a design to weaken the institution”.
The UPA government and AIIMS had defended the appointment, saying AIIMS was an autonomous body and the CVC's nod for it was not necessary. Chaturvedi's sympathisers, including AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal, have alleged he was removed due to "political pressure".