By Mudassir Kuloo
Srinagar, Apr 10: Over six-months have passed since a committee submitted its recommendations for regulation of rates in the private hospitals, yet it awaits implementation due to the opposition from the proprietors.
The failure of the government to regulate rates is taking a toll on patients, who are being charged as per the will of hospitals.
The committee headed by Director Health Services Kashmir submitted its report in September last year for regulation of rates.
However, the government has so far failed to its execution due to opposition by private hospitals.
An official in the Health Department said that private hospitals rates were monitored everywhere in the world.
“There is no check on private hospitals in the valley,” the official said.
In absence of regulations, there have been frequent complaints about the patients being fleeced by private hospitals, he said.
There are 42 private hospitals and nursing homes registered with the Directorate of Health Services Kashmir (DHSK).
“There are also variations in tests in privately run medical labs,” the official said.
The official said that private hospitals have raised objections over implementation of the report for regulation of rates.
“Let us hope that the government will implement it, so that there is uniformity in rates,” the official said.
In 2012, Health Department had issued an order making mandatory for nursing homes to display costs against services provided by them for the purpose of transparency.
A government of India’s survey released in 2016 has revealed that childbirth at a private hospital in J&K would cost more than it would cost in most states of India.
The survey has said that for a single childbirth at a private hospital in Kashmir’s rural private nursing home is Rs. 23,750 on an average, higher than national average.
Ghulam Mohammad Bhat, whose brother underwent surgery for removal of gall bladder last month, said, “We were charged Rs 50,000 by a private hospital in Srinagar. One of our relatives for the same surgery was charged only Rs 35,000.”
It has also been seen that patient load in government hospitals force people to turn to private hospitals for treatment.
Bhat, who is resident of Bemina, said there is huge variation in rates.
“The proprietors of hospitals charge as per their will for surgeries and tests. The government should fix reasonable rates so that patients are not charged with hefty sums for surgeries and consultations,” he added.
Director Health Services Kashmir, Dr Saleem-ur-Rehman, said that he did a thorough exercise for regulation of rates before submitting the report to the government.
“We talked to lot of private practitioners and doctors. We recommended that there shall be reasonable rates,” Dr Rehman said.
Presently, he said, they can’t raid any hospital for charging exorbitant to patients.
“Once the rates are fixed, we too can take action,” he added.
JK’s liability swells
Srinagar, Jan 17: Similar to previous years, Jammu and Kashmir has accrued a liability of over Rs 7,000 crore in the ongoing fiscal even as experts blame state’s political leadership for not finding a solution to the issue.
Official documents of the finance department reveal that the state is running a liability of Rs 7,531 crore so far this fiscal, a figure close to the annual build-up J&K witnesses every year.
The total liabilities for the state have now swelled up to over Rs 68,000 crore.“The three fiscal parameters–revenue deficit, fiscal deficit and outstanding liability–indicate the extent of overall fiscal balance in the finances of the state government during the specified period. The nature of deficit is an indicator of the prudence of budgetary policy of the state government. Another useful measure of the deficit-base in a state’s fiscal policy is the State’s Own Deficit (SOD),” the documents reveal.
Noted economist, Professor Nisar Ali said the state’s expenditure and revenue system has been “mismanaged”.“The power purchase has been an important factor for swelling liabilities. The GST has further increased the mismanagement between expenditure and tax revenue,” he said.
Prof Ali also blamed J&K’s political leadership for increasing liabilities.“The annual liabilities increase due to power purchases despite the state having huge hydro resources. The state’s leadership has failed to fight for the return of power projects.
“It also depends upon the government of India how it wants to find a solution to this problem,” he added.
Endorsing Prof Ali’s views, a senior official of the finance department said that little or no use of revenue generation avenues, increasing power purchases and bulging expenditure on salaries are the main contributors to the escalating liabilities of the state.“There is a steep rise in salary and pension bills, power deficit, rising interest liabilities, loan repayments, and deficit on account of non-tax revenue,” the official said.
Conducive atmosphere inevitable for dialogue: Farooq
Srinagar, Jan 17: Former Chief Minister and National Conference (NC) president, Dr Farooq Abdullah on Thursday said that the favourable atmosphere is inevitable for dialogue, which is the only way out to settle the issues.
Addressing party workers in Jammu, Dr Farooq said that the dialogue is the only way out to resolve the issues but there is a need of conducive atmosphere which is inevitable. He added that “under the shades of gun, no dialogue process is possible. We have to stop bullet culture for lasting peace in the region.”
“NC has also given priority to the people. When I became Chief Minister in 1996, I fought with many things as the school were shut, no bridge was there, no office was functioning as the people were frightened by the turmoil then, but I stood up to fight against the forces who were inimical to peace.”
About 35 percent reservation in other states, Dr Farooq said that the incumbent Chief Minister of Odissa, Naveen Patnayak has written to him, suggesting there should be reservation of 35 percentfor women in Jammu and Kashmir also. “We will implement the law, which will ensure 35 percent reservation to women in the State once getting into the power,” he said.
However, he said that it is not easy to take such decisions as when his government took a decision to make 50 percent reservation for girls in Medical College then some people knocked the door of Supreme Court to put halt over the decision.
Dr Farooq also appealed the party workers to work hard and ensure the win of NC leaders who will be contesting the elections.
Abundant snowfall in January makes Gulmarg the perfect winter-destination for tourists
Srinagar, Jan 17: Unlike last January, the abundant snowfall so far this month has attracted a lot of tourists to Gulmarg as the destination is brimming with over 90 per cent occupancy these days.
The valley has received at least four moderate to heavy snowfalls this year with an even stronger wet spell predicted from January 19 to 23.
Tourists from across the world are cherishing this and making their way to Gulmarg, whose slopes offer a perfect destination for skiing.
Speaking to The Kashmir Monitor, CEO Gulmarg Development Authority, Syed Hanief Balkhi said that most of the hotels are fully occupied as people are heading to Gulmarg to enjoy the charismatic scenery offered by the snow-covered hills.“Gulmarg is under 4-5 feet snow and is looking like a playground these days. Tourists from India and abroad enjoy skiing, snow cycling, ice skating, snow-sculptor activity, sledge-racing and other games here,” he said.
Apart from the hoteliers, the rush of the tourists, Balkhi said, has provided good workdays for sledge keepers, skating guides, local cab drivers and many others associated with tourism.
In 2018, as per the official figures, Gulmarg received 5.76 lakh tourists as compared to 5.69 lakh in the preceding year.
The tourism players also expressed satisfaction over the rush of tourists heading to the valley.
President Hotel and Restaurant Owners Federation, Wahid Malik said that snowfalls have pushed up the number of tourists visiting the valley.
“Gulmarg saw lesser arrival when winters begun, however, now the snow has ensured all the hotels and resorts are booked,” he said adding that Gulmarg hotels are running on 90 per cent occupancy so far this season.
Gulmarg is declared the ‘heartland of winter sports in India’ by the Winter Games Federation. This year too, Gulmarg Tourism Authority is going to organise winter sports carnival starting from the first week of February.
Additional Director Tourism Department, Nasir Khan said that Gulmarg is “rocking these days as it has received 34,712 and 35,022 tourists in the month of November and December”.
“We are going to organize the winter carnival from the next month to make the place more attractive,” he said.
He added that night market and cultural shows will also be arranged by the department.