Lobbying intensifies ahead of SKIMS Director Appointment

Srinagar: Hectic lobbying has gained momentum in the corridors of power here as the government has finally fixed date for interview to select the new Director for the prestigious Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) Soura, Valley’s sole tertiary care hospital.
While the incumbent Director SKIMS, Dr Showkat Ali Zargar was accorded farewell Monday, two days ahead of formal completion of his five-year turn on June 2, official sources said the interview for his successor to the chair is scheduled for June 11 and 12 at the Banquet Hall, here where Chief Secretary BR Sharma is likely to chair the screening committee.
Even as the selection will remain another litmus test for the Peoples Democratic Party-Bharatiya Janta Party alliance towards claims of “integrity and improvement” of otherwise ailing healthcare sector in the state, the ongoing lobbying in the civil Secretariat and beyond, is again suggestive of “pulls and pressures.”
While some 30 applicants are in the fray, some of them are trying hard, beforehand, to impress the government as being only one eligible candidate for the coveted post at the hospital, often marred by controversies surrounding “maladministration and corruption.”
Though applicants include reputed doctors from within the SKIMS itself, some of them have been accused of private practice, something which the government has banned as amounting to criminal offence. Observers opine that selecting anyone with a tainted service record will only be detrimental for the hospital. 
While Mehbooba Mufti will have the final word to decide the fate of applicants, another one who is believed to play a crucial role in the decision-making is her Advisor Prof Amitabh Mattoo.
Rumours are rife that a particular forum, which happens to be in the “good books” of the coalition government, is trying hard for the selection of their “ideology” candidate. Curiously, one of their “ideologues” was recently selected to head an academic institution by a panel headed by Prof amitabh Mattoo.
While a particular forum from within Kashmir is understood to be trying hard that their candidate deserves the chair, another lobby is trying for a doctor who has worked outside state in the north-East.
Observers opine that the government should avoid any political patronage. “Ideally speaking, in the interest of this institution, a medico well-versed with SKIMS, having internationally reputed service record, whose contribution has been globally acclaimed would best fit the chair…There needs to be a change for good, let the merit and integrity of the applicants speak,”  said a member of the SKIMS Governing Body, asking not to be named.
There have already been repeated “mysterious” extensions in the last date for filing of applications. On May 16, the government extended last date for submission of applications for the post of Director for the third consecutive time, when two dozen candidates had already submitted applications.
Last month, soon after swearing-in of the new government, the Health and Medical Education Department vide order no ME/NG/71/2016/SKIMS advertised the notification for appointment of the new director, while April 29 was fixed as the last date for filing of applications. The deadline was, however, subsequently extended, twice.
Chief Minister, will approve the appointment of the new director after the selection committee headed by the Chief Secretary will select the candidate for the coveted post.
Meanwhile, a warm send-off was given to Dr Showkat Ali Zargar by faculty forum SKIMS. The SKIMS officials, however, said the Dr Zargar would attend his duties on Tuesday.
Dr. Zargar’s tenure as Director was marred by controversies as the most of the hospital staff allege that he ‘encouraged’ corruption and drained the state exchequer left, right and centre while putting the healthcare on the backburner.   













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