Malda (MLDT): A swimming pool and a gymnasium have come up on the compound of the DRM/Malda’s bungalow, sparking protests from employees who alleged that over Rs 1 crore was spent unnecessarily when the railway hospital was short of medicines and the railway staff quarters were in a bad state.
The DRM, Ravinder Gupta, on the other hand, said the two facilities had been built for the use of railway officials and for those who would put up at the adjacent railway guesthouse. He said all rules had been followed in the construction.
Interestingly the General Manager (GM) of Eastern Railway G.C.Agarwal, who reached Malda on 6th evening, said in a different context that following the fund crunch the priority of the railways was to tighten safety and security of passengers. “Beautification is at the bottom of the priority list,” Agarwal told the reporters.
Sources have said the bungalow is located in a sprawling 50-bigha plot and is adjacent to the Kalindri guesthouse. The guesthouse and the bungalow are interconnected by a passage. “The swimming pool and the gymnasium have come up on one bigha land. A filtration plant was also set up. The swimming pool has both deep and shallow ends. The pool is 50 metre long and 30 metre wide. The gym is equipped with a treadmill, cycle and cross-trainer,” said a source.
The railway staff have said the funds could have been spent for improving the infrastructure at the hospital and the renovation of their quarters that are in a poor shape. “We cannot understand what was the need to spend over Rs 1 crore on luxuries for a handful of officers when our hospital is in a bad shape and our quarters are in need of repairs,” said a railway employee of the Malda division.
Adhir Chowdhury, the Minister of State for Railways, when contacted in Delhi, said he would inquire into the matter. “I have been told about the construction of a swimming pool and a gymnasium in the bungalow of the divisional railway manager of Malda. I also know that Ravinder Gupta does not do anything that is not within the rules and regulations. Even then, I will look into the matter,” Adhir said.
The district president of the Eastern Railwaymen’s Union, Rupatan Das, said the DRM should have put his priorities in a proper perspective. “The quarters of the railway staff are in a very bad shape, Railway hospital in Malda has long been grappling with formidable infrastructural lapses including the acute crunch of doctors. Post of chief medical officer is lying vacant. There is no physician now. X-ray, ultrasonography machines are out of order. But instead of addressing those problems the authority was concentrating on luxury of the senior officials; and we have been raising these issues repeatedly, but nothing has been done,” Das said.
Gupta, however, said he had done nothing wrong. “I have followed all norms in constructing the swimming pool and the gym. They have been constructed adjacent to the guesthouse and they are meant for the use of officers and guests. I will not walk away with them when I am transferred. They will remain as assets of the railway division,” he said.
He further added that renovation work of the rail employees’ quarter was in the pipeline. “One room quarters would get another room in addition to renovation of bathroom and toilets.” In counter allegation Mr Gupta said, “All should understand that the doctors are also human beings and prefer to work amid a friendly environment which is sometimes missing in Malda. So many of them are leaving Malda and opting for other hospitals. Still we are trying development of the hospital.”