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PGI’s ‘only Airtel’ idea under scanner

chandigarh Updated: Jul 08, 2015 13:04 IST
Vishav Bharti

The decision to stop services of Idea cellular network on the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) campus here, leading to monopoly of the Airtel network, has come under the scanner. The arbitrary decision has caused harassment to not only the staff but also the patients and visitors who are on the Idea network.

According to sources in the PGIMER administration, the estate committee (for commercial sites) of the institute will ask for a vigilance inquiry into the matter in its upcoming meeting.

Earlier this year, the PGI administration decided to shift its internal network — the cellular services being used by the staff — from Idea to Airtel. The institute authorities not only changed the mobile service provider but also refused to allow Idea to operate its towers that were already installed on the campus.

The situation is causing a lot of harassment to the patients, especially in Nehru Hospital and the Emergency area, where people have to make urgent calls. They often find no network on their phones. On any given day, more than 20,000 people visit the PGI.

Sources said the matter was brought to the notice of the in-house estate committee (for commercial sites). On January 27, the committee unanimously decided that Idea should be allowed to provide network on the condition that it would pay the rent to the institute for operating its towers. Even the PGI director, Dr YK Chawla, gave his consent to the decision of the committee.

It was decided that quotations should be invited from different companies and Idea be asked to pay on a par with the highest bidder if it wanted its network to continue on the campus.

The matter was referred to the procurement cell, which allegedly blacked out the Idea network on the campus. Now, Medical Technologists Association has written to the estate committee, alleging that “vested interests have raised the objections with malafide intentions to undermine and circumvent the authority of the director and the unanimous decision of the estate committee for commercial sites. The vested interests, it says, are facilitating the monopoly of Airtel, which is fleecing the customers.” A senior official of the institute, who wished not to be named, said that when Idea had its infrastructure already installed there was no harm in allowing it to operate. “Moreover we were not allowing them for free, but charging a handsome amount,” he said.

The estate committee has put the issue on its agenda for an upcoming meeting, wherein it will request the PGI director to initiate a vigilance inquiry into the matter after seizing the entire records of the proceedings.

The Medical Technologists Association has demanded that necessary directions be issued for restarting the Idea cellular services as approved by the estate committee to bring desired relief to the staff, patients and visiting public on the campus.

What’s the controversy

The PGIMER shifted its internal network — used by staff — from Idea to Airtel at the start of this year
The institute refused permission to Idea even to operate from the campus.

The outcome is that in most parts of the institute, Idea doesn’t have its network

On any given day more than 20,000 people visit PGIMER, the decision is giving harrowing time to them