Pondy Lt Governor in fresh controversy over trust
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Last Updated: Wednesday, April 20, 2011, 19:50
Puducherry: Puducherry Lt Governor Iqbal Singh, under ED scanner for alleged links to suspected money launderer Hasan Ali Khan, was caught in a fresh controversy over the administration's in-principle clearance for a medical college to be set up by a trust reportedly linked to him.

The controversy broke out over reports that some members of the South Educational Trust, which plans to set up a medical college at Karaikal, were from Singh's family and due procedures had not been followed.

But dismissing "all the reports as maligning" and the trust as "baseless and mischievous", Trust chairman S Tejinder Pal Singh said Iqbal Singh had no link with the medical college project.

Of the six Trust members, three of them including two sons of the Lt Governor had resigned, he said.

He said the Puducherry government had not given any land for the trust. "It is only a private initiative on the part of the trust," which was started to take up charitable projects, with the medical college project being one of its objectives.

Singh claimed there was a "strong lobbying" against the trust in Puducherry "and the Lt Governor has no link in the medical college project."

The new controversy has erupted even as the Prime Minister's Office gave its nod to the Enforcement Directorate to question Singh for his suspected links with Khan, a stud farm owner, facing charges of money laundering and tax evasion.

Singh faced trouble after his name cropped up during questioning of Bihar based Congress leader Amlendu Pandey in connection with his recommendation for expeditious issuance of passport to Khan when he was a Rajya Sabha MP in 1997.

In a clarification, the Puducherry government today said the Trust was issued only an in principle NOC by the government in March-April 2010 without any commitment.

The Trust later approached the government for an 'essentiality certificate' in the format prescribed by the Medical Council of India but it could not be issued since the relevant norms under Establishment of Medical College Regulations of the MCI--setting up of 300-bedded hospital-- were not met.

Subsequently the Trust requested for a certificate to enable it to raise bank financing of the project based on the undertaking given by it to fulfil the MCI conditions in due course, Chief Secretary R Chandramohan said in a release.

The release said a modified 'essentiality certificate' modelled on the 'essentiality certificate' prescribed by the MCI was issued on February 25.

It did not, however, amount to the 'essentiality certificate' required for applying to MCI for starting a new medical college.

Chandramohan said the 'essentiality certificate' in the prescribed format could be issued only after the trust fulfils MCI's prescribed essential conditions to be verified by the Director of Health Services and with the state Cabinet recommendations.

The grant of permission to the trust without allegedly following due procedures came in for attack from local units of AIADMK, CPI and CPI-M who demanded that Singh be recalled.

Chief Minister V Vaithilingam and Home and Health Minister E Valsaraj met Iqbal Singh today against the backdrop of the fresh controversy.


First Published: Wednesday, April 20, 2011, 19:50

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