By Rajan Narayan

THE veteran Congress leader Girish Chodankar has exposed the tender scams in the BJP. Addressing a press conference on Sunday, February 18, 2024 Girish Chodankar alleged that the contract for housekeeping in GMC was awarded to Eco Clean. The contract awarded was over Rs118 crore. Unfortunately, a loyal BJP karykarta Pradeep Shet had quoted only half the amount (Rs48 crore).
Upset by the manner in which the contract has been awarded the loyalist BJP karyakarta of over 20 years has now challenged the contract awarded to Eco Clean Systems and Solutions in court. It is clear that corruption is high as is infighting within the BJP in Goa.
The Eco Clean contract for housekeeping is signed by the Health Directorate and in the Goa Medical College & Hospital too is a major scandal. This is because the GMC also has a large army of multi-tasking staff (MTS). Historically, most of the peon and ward working staff were referred to as “servants.” However, now they are called multi-tasking servants or MTS for a short. It is not politically correct to say servants. So everyone refers to the short form.

THE MTS employed full-time by the GMC take care of all the cleaning, washing, etc, in the 150 odd GMC wards. They take patients on the metal trolleys for various tests like ultra-sound, CT scan, etc. They collect blood and urine samples. They empty the urine bag of the patients who have a bladder attached catheter. They help shift patients from one bed to another. They make cotton bandage rolls for ready use by doctors and nursing staff. They take care of the oxygen cylinders and keep them prepared for use. They also take patients on their final journey to the morgue.
The Eco Clean staff is supposed to be in service in various wards. Eco Clean employees every week come with their vacuum cleaners and dryers to clean the wards. They are supposed to do a thorough deep cleaning job at once a week. But very often for want of supervision, the work is slipshod.
Compared to them the GMC’s MTS staff come to the wards every morning, afternoon and evening to sweep and swab, and super clean various surfaces of dining benches, grimy walls and hospital furniture, even the lifts, etc. They also help patients who are ambulatory to stand up and provide patient care services. Those who do not have relatives or hired caretakers to attend to them are taken care by the MTS.
It is strange why the Health Directorate should give a contract of Rs118 crore to Eco Clean. But then the Health Directorate and the GMC services under Health Minister Vishwajit Rane are all about outsourcing. Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant too looks upon the MTS as a great source of employment for people in his constituency. You need only SSC qualification to become an MTS. Due to the security of the job tenure, even graduates apply for the MTS posts. The great advantage of becoming a permanent employee of the GMC is that you get one year of maternity leave. So for women, it is a godsend. As far as the consultants and even the residents are concerned they get all public holidays.

BESIDES the MTS Vishwajit Rane has got a lot of contract workers employed as MTS. They are distinguished by the permanent regular MTS workers by the orange uniform they wear. Vishwajit keeps starting new departments and sections in the GMC. A lot of the pathology services in the GMC have been outsourced. For instance TST, one test which is only to fulfill TB requirement is referred to an outside lab. Lab services are majorly outsourced. This is despite the fact that the GMC has a very big pathology department with a lot of senior staff.
Recently, GMC opened a large Ortho unit comprising of professional cobblers and carpenters to make various orthopedic devices. It is headed by an expert who has a degree or diploma in this field. The orthopedic devices include false legs, all kinds of implants including collars to fit the individual requirement of patients. I came to know about this department as the person in charge offered to make me a special neck and waistcoat contraption to permit me to sit up on my bed.
I was given a list of raw material required for the collar to be made by an expert and I got my secretary to buy the material from Panjim, it was enough material to make may be four collars. After a gap of almost one month I got my neck and chest collar to the specifications required by the ortho doctors. Three weeks were wasted because the chief ortho doctor was on leave and nobody could do the job he was hired to do. Even when he came it took almost two weeks to get the extra-special custom-made collar.
The fancy collar finally did not fit and I had to wait till the Ortho department gave me clearance to wear an ordinary hard orthopedic collar to sit up on my ward bed. Needless to say waiting for my collar to arrive I lost a lot of valuable physiotherapy time, because I was not allowed to get up from my bed. It took much longer for my right arm and leg to recover. It was only after three months of so called bed rest that I am now able to stand up awkwardly and manage to shuffle into my waiting wheelchair and sit down for an hour or so.

THE GMC despite having its own ortho department has outsourced the making of ortho devices to a third party. They set up their “shop” in an empty ward of the GMC complex about a month ago. Now all the ortho devices required by a patient are presumably designed and made in this department unit. The GMC has also set up a spine rehabilitation centre. This again is outsourced to a third party. The GMC has outsourced several other services.
One gets the impression that only core services are performed by the army of medical staff senior and junior of the GMC. It is obviously very profitable for the GMC to franchise out various sections like the orthopedic unit, etc, to private medical professionals. So although the number of departments in the GMC have multiplied we are not sure how much or how significantly patient care has improved.
Historically, all the food services in the GMC were in-house preparations. But for quite some years now they have been contracted out to Sodexo which is claimed to be an international company. Apparently, local companies or even nationally reputed companies are not considered for this contract. It is a profitable business because the Sodexo caterers supply thousands of breakfasts, lunches and dinners daily to the wards. Sodexo also supplies food services to the four major hospitals of the GMC.
I presume that the maintenance of the various MRIs, Ultra-sound, X-rays are also outsourced. It is only in recent times that the contract to purchase includes maintenance costs. There is as far as I know only one CT scan machine in the GMC. Of course X-rays and CT scans are done in the Casualty department. The CT Scan department only works between 10 am to 5 pm. Very often patients are taken and they have to wait for two to four hours before their CT scan is done. It will not be long before the scan services and also MRI services are also be outsourced.

THE tendering scam is widely split not only in the Health department but also in all other government departments. There is a competitive rivalry between the various departments to make a quick buck. We understand that nothing is awarded by open tender anymore. Who gets what contract is determined by how much the contractor is willing to gift the minister or bureaucrats concerned. The percentage that is to be given back is 25%. Part of the reason why PWD works are so shoddy is because of huge kickbacks.
Recently the Goa Bench of the Bombay High Court ticked off Venka Rao contractors for the delay in doing national highway work. The HC insisted that the contractor Venka Rao was making silly excuses to delay the work. Work on the national highway has been delayed by more than two years. Venka Rao is the favorite contractor of the BJP government. He has a record of shoddy works whether it is Panaji-Dona Paula road or various smart city contracts. No action can be taken against Venka Rao because he is supposed to be close to former vice president and senior BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu.
It may also be recalled that recently Minister of Art & Culture Govind Gaude was accused of major scams in the renovation and repair of the Kala Academy. Several crores were spent in the renovation of the Kala Academy. But the indoor auditorium continues to leak. Somebody posted a photograph and video on Facebook of a snake in the indoor auditorium. The quality of renovation work has been questioned.
Another in-fighting took place in the BJP when Speaker Ramesh Tawadkar exposed the corruption of Govind Gaude. Chief Minister Pramod Sawant promptly took the attitude that it was an internal affair of the BJP. Vijai Sardesai has also exposed the scams of the BJP. He said the BJP scams are not and should not be an internal matter of the BJP.
Both at the state and national alliance the BJP is alleged to be a scam-ridden government. But all the politician scamsters are assured the protection of Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The principle is to be as corrupt as you want to be as long you want me to stay. The Goa government is a “lootmaar” government as pointed out by Fatorda MLA and Goa Forward president, Vijai Sardesai.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

+ 8 = 9