As the chancellor of the BPKIHS, the PM should not waste time to take action against those involved in corruption

Established in 1993 under a Nepal-India joint agreement, the Dharan-based BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences (BPKIHS) was envisioned to develop as a centre of excellence in health sciences in the eastern part of the country. For the greater part of the years since its establishment, the institute, which has now been converted into a Health Science Academy, has been paralysed by massive corruption and irregularities, mismanagement and tug-of-war among the office bearers, adversely affecting the teaching and learning environment. Health workers, nursing staff, students and doctors have now joined hands and padlocked the offices of the office bearers for the last two months, demanding legal action against them, who, they claim, are involved in corruption and irregularities. The agitating groups have claimed that the vice-chancellor, rector, registrar and BPKIHS director all are involved in corruption and irregularities while awarding contracts in constructing hospital buildings and procuring medical equipment and goods, the prices of which were said to be several times higher than the market price. Following the prolonged agitation over alleged corruption charges, the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) took control of all documents related to the contracts of building construction and procurement of goods on Friday.

The ongoing in-fighting among VC Gyanendra Giri, Rector Guru Prasad Khanal, Registrar Mohan Chandra Regmi and Director Gauri Shankar Das has thrown the functioning of BPKIHS out of gear.

The office bearers are blaming one another for what has gone wrong in the institute, which has been providing health services to millions of people in eastern Nepal.

A high-level probe commission formed by the government, led by secretary at the Office of Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, Baikuntha Aryal, made its report public, concluding that all office bearers were responsible for the anomalies seen in the BPKIHS. Receiving the report, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, who is also the chancellor of the BPKIHS, pledged to implement the Aryal report.

Minister of State for Health and Population Umesh Shrestha has also warned he would take action if they do not resign from their posts. A team led by Mayor of Dharan Sub-Metropolis Tilak Rai also met with PM Deuba on Friday and sought the latter's intervention to save the institute from collapsing. Director Das, issuing a press statement on Saturday, said he was ready to put in his paper if others did the same.

The widespread corruption and irregularities seen at the reputed institute like the BPKIHS will not only affect the teaching and learning environment but ultimately affect the health services to the people of the eastern region and patients from Bihar, India. As the chancellor of the institute, the PM should not waste time to take prompt action against the office bearers for their involvement in corruption for the best interest of the health science academy, which had earned a name as a centre of excellence from day one of its establishment. Removing them from offices is not enough. The PM should also appoint highly competent and honest persons to the posts without political bias to manage the BPKIHS.

Squatter problem

Squatter settlements along the Bagmati River are an eyesore, with garbage and waste strewn everywhere as the number of households keeps increasing.

A lot of the garbage generated is also thrown into the Bagmati River. It makes little sense to be organising campaigns to clean the Bagmati River when garbage from the squatter settlements is thrown into it day after day. It's been ages since squatters have been occupying the banks of the Bagmati River in Kathmandu.

All governments, past and present, have said they would relocate them, but nothing has happened.

Instead the squatter problem is looking to be more political than social.

Many residents of the squatter settlements are actually known to own houses elsewhere, and live comfortable lives along the river banks with modern amenities such as a TV set, fridge and computer.

They are said to have been provoked into occupying the river banks by the land mafia, who in turn are protected by the political parties, hoping to grab a piece of the expensive land. The government must show the political will to solve the squatters' problem once and for all, while the political parties must refrain from using the residents as vote banks.

A version of this article appears in the print on August 16 2021, of The Himalayan Times.