Adding to the woes of the Punjab Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) disconnected the institute's power connection due to non-payment of electricity dues to the tune of more than Rs. 50 lakh.
The cheque submitted by PIMS to the PSPCL, bearing clearing date of December 17, reportedly bounced, leading to the strict action. Gopal Sharma, superintending engineer, PSPCL, confirmed the development. Power supply to the institute has earlier been disconnected thrice in the past one year.
Power generators reportedly remained inoperational due to non-availability of diesel. The PIMS wore a deserted look when the HT team paid a visit on Tuesday, with nobody from the management and the administration found present on the premises. Students also boycotted classes to join the staff on strike.
In another setback, registration granted to PIMS under Section 12-AA of the Income Tax Act, 1961, by the commissioner, income tax, Jalandhar-II, has been cancelled on the ground that the PIMS society has failed to provide charitable or cheap health services required to avail I-T exemption. Sources said PIMS had been exempted from income tax for being a charitable hospital, but due to its involvement in commercial activities, the benefit had been withdrawn and the institute could face a hefty fine.
Punjab Congress spokesman Sukhpal Singh Khaira said the cancellation of registration by the income tax commissioner had exposed the intentions of Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal to squander a premier institution for personal whims and fancies.
Meanwhile, the strike by doctors and other agitating staff members over non-payment of salaries entered the 14th day. All OPDs (out-patient departments) stayed closed. There was reportedly no patient in the 400-bedded hospital.
"It is highly unfortunate that all doctors are on an agitation and nobody from the management side is here in the institute. Nobody is bothered about PIMS," said Dr SS Sidhu, a protesting doctor.
Health dept to issue advisory
Union minister of state for health and family welfare Santosh Chaudhary, who had summoned the PIMS management to her office in New Delhi on Monday, said officials from the Medical Council of India (MCI) had come to her on December 23 along with the relevant record on why permission was not granted to PIMS for admitting the new batch of MBBS, but no one from the institute had turned up.
"I met union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on December 23 and asked him to look in this matter. He would write an advisory to the state government to sort the matter with an eye on the future of the two batches of MBBS courses," she said, adding that health was a state subject and the Centre could only issue an advisory.