Union minister of state for health and family welfare Santosh Chaudhary was on Friday at the Punjab Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) to meet the agitating doctors and other employees. She has summoned the management to her office in New Delhi on December 23 with complete records.
"Two days from now in Jammu, I will discuss the matter with union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad; on December 23, listen to the PIMS authorities in my office; and on December 30, put the matter before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his visit to Mullanpur near Chandigarh," said the minister, adding: "The state government and PIMS cannot put the future of employees and students at stake by escaping their responsibilities."
Punjab Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa, Congress spokesperson Sukhpal Singh Kaira, and former Jalandhar Cantonment legislator Jagbir Singh Brar accompanied the minister on her visit. The Punjab government has made up its mind to handover the premier institution to a private player such as Fortis but Bajwa made it clear he wouldn't allow this privatisation.
"Either the Punjab government should run it or it or hand it over to the Centre. Privatisation will only allow big loot," he said adding that it was said that doctors had gone without pay for six months. "Can the chief minister and the deputy CM go without pay for even a day? If the government claims it is sound financially, it should be able to run the institute," Bajwa added.
Handing over the prime institute to private players was always the government's game, just as in Amritsar, SAS Nagar and Bathinda private business houses were allowed to build big hospitals on government land, said the Congress leader. "When PIMS was to open, the government had proposed privatization even then but the Congress pressure had prevailed," he added.
Bajwa questioned the giving of project to the society of state minister Surjit Singh Rakhra when he did not have any experience of managing a hospital. "Badal should love the PIMS doctors, students, and employees just as he loves his son, daughter-in-law, and other members of family," said Bajwa.
The strike at PIMS has lasted 10 days. Students are on dharna, worried about future even after paying lakhs of rupees as fee. Congress spokesperson Sukhpal Khaira, who was instrumental in bringing both Bajwa and Chaudhary to PIMS, said he would protest at the PIMS gate, if the matter was still unsolved after a week.