Income Tax (I-T) searches that commenced on Wednesday for a hospital and the people associated with it mark a new trend of the I-T department launching, perhaps for the first time, such a large-scale operation against the members of the medical profession.
The searches also point to another new trend in Bhopal: that people who are not connected with the medical profession have been investing in hospital projects on a large scale.
The I-T department commenced search operations at the Narmada hospital — a medical facility in Bhopal that has expanded rapidly in the last 5 years.
The operation covered its owners, Dr Rajesh and Renu Sharma, besides Paramjit Singh Chandhok of Shiva constructions, Rajiv and Dr Padma Mishra of Noble hospital in Misrod and BJP leader Shailendra Sharma, all of whom had business associations with Narmada hospital.
While hospital accounts have, in the past, come under scrutiny, this is perhaps the first time a search has been launched against a hospital in Bhopal.
When asked if the medical profession was a money spinner that attracted investment by people from non-medical backgrounds, president of the Private Nursing Homes Association, Dr Umesh Sharda, said that anyone who wishes to expand their work requires investment that can come from a bank in the form of loan or from a private investor.
“It is not a high-return business. In fact, it is very tough business to run if run scrupulously,” he said. Dr Sharda also said that IT department has acted against hospitals from time to time and termed it a regular move.
Bhopal has witnessed a massive proliferation of hospitals in the last few years - which are considered one of the few thriving businesses in the otherwise bleak economic setting of the city.
However, searches on hospitals are not generally heard of, except in case of the former Ayushman hospital which was covered in a search along with Bansal group as the latter was about to buy it.
“This is the first time a hospital is at the centre of the search. The medical profession now involves huge investments running into hundreds of crores and the I-T department was bound to question the source of funds sooner or later,” said economic analyst Rajendra Kothari, explaining the department’s move.