Offering to give life support to the sick Punjab Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) here by takeover, the head of a local charitable trust has said he won't tolerate its going into private hands again.
Baba Kashmira Singh, whose Baba Kashmira Singh Jan Sewa Trust runs many charitable hospitals and nursing institutes in the Doaba region, has said he is ready to fulfil the conditions that the PIMS management has failed to meet. "Seeing the doctors and students out on the streets to claim their rights pricks my conscience, so I offer to run the institute," he said here on Friday.
One of his charitable hospitals is just 300 metres from PIMS. Unpaid since July, the doctors at PIMS are on strike for the past 25 days. The paramedics and non-teaching employees are on the same course. The institute has lost its electricity supply over unpaid bills for Rs 66 crore.
"The government is not resolving the issues, and the public is harassed," said Baba Kahmira Singh. "The future of 300 students is uncertain and I hear the government is about to handover the college and the hospital to big corporate houses without first punishing the people who diverted Rs 300 crore to other health institutions," he alleged.
"If for another time, the institute is transferred secretly to the private sector without proper procedure, we will launch a statewide agitation," said Baba Kahmira Singh, opposing also the founding of cancer hospital near Chandigarh, region already served by the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), and where the site, Mullanpur, has no rail and road connectivity. "Why should Faridkot, Bathinda, Sangrur, and Patiala have all the facilities, and the Doaba region stay ignored?" he added.
"We can run the cancer institute from PIMS also," he said, adding: "If Tata is asked to do it, my more than 13-lakh followers will take to the streets in protest."
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Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal will meet the PIMS governing body on Saturday. Earlier, several meetings with three stakeholders (the family of cabinet minister Surjit Singh Rakhra Rakhra family, Dhesi family of Phagwara, and group of expatriate doctors) have been inconclusive, as reportedly, none is interested in investing more money. Rakhra was unavailable for comments on the offer from Baba Kashmira Singh.
Doctors at PIMS said on Friday that bank had dishonoured the two-month-salary cheques they had received from the management. The reason: signature mismatch.
"It is annoying that the management writes fake cheques to fool the doctors. Some of the cheques aren't even signed," said a doctor, showing the cheques to the media. The doctors consider taking the legal course.
PIMS principal director Dr Kulbir Kaur and director Jaspal Singh Dhesi were unavailable for comments, in spite of repeated attempts to reach them.