Refuting the claims of state cabinet minister Surjit Singh Rakhra that PIMS was handed over to Fortis hospital for operation and maintenance, local MLA Pargat Singh on Wednesday categorically denied any such development during an open house discussion with the agitating employees of the Punjab Institute of Medical Sciences.
Claiming that he was deputed by chief minister Parkash Singh Badal to resolve the issues of different sections of PIMS as early as possible, Pargat Singh tried to present his point of view before the agitating staff members, but his appeals seemed to have had no effect as the agitating employees decided to continue with their stir till their demands were met.
Earlier, through a written circular the protesters were informed about Pargat's interaction by the principal in the morning.
Interacting with the protesters, Pargat said, "We admit that owing to some serious mistakes by the previous management, the institute had hit a low. Now it is the time to think ahead and start afresh. From the past over a week, I have been discussing the matter of PIMS with the chief minister's office on regular basis. New members with professional background have been brought to the institute and I hope that the issue will be resolved soon," he said.
To a pointed query about possibility of handing over of PIMS to Fortis hospital, as claimed by Rakhra, Pargat said, "It is not there. Fortis might have been providing consultancy to the present management as an adviser but as per the memorandum of understanding, PIMS cannot be handed over to any private player."
Pargat also revealed to the staff members that under a damage-control exercise, the government had found a way out to change the existing stakeholders by inducting new ones. "The old stakeholders will exit the management in a phased manner," he said.
Earlier in the day, the management failed to start classes. The agitating doctors forced the only senior doctor, who had started teaching, to leave the class by raising slogans outside the classroom.
Also, the financial adviser and a representative of newly-inducted members, Dinesh Mishra remained unsuccessful in persuading the agitating employees to end the stir. The staff reportedly denied to join their duties till the issues affecting them are not resolved.
Doctors, paramedical staff and non-teaching staff submitted their memorandums to the representative director appointed by the state government, Dr Vimal Sikri.
A group of doctors was in favour of continuing teaching on Wednesday but after seeing that increments were given to only a select group of doctors, they quit the idea and continued with the stir.
"On one hand, the PIMS management has been expressing its helplessness in paying salaries to staff, on the other hand it had granted `75,000 as an increment to the principal. To the best of our knowledge, such increments were earlier stopped by the PIMS management but these had been granted to 21 of the employees in a clandestine manner," an agitating doctor said.
Doctors also raised this issue with Pargat Singh during the meeting on which the latter assured that all discrepancies would be brought to an end in the coming days.
"We are here to resolve all the pending issues. In the coming days, I will be sitting in the PIMS on daily basis to interact with the agitating employees separately to note down their grievances. At no cost, we can allow this institute to die," Pargat assured the agitating staff.
Parents of students, who came to the meeting, expressed their resentment against the PIMS management. "We are going to submit a memorandum at the chief minister's office on Thursday. The future of our wards seems very bleak as there are no signs of classes starting anytime soon," a parent said.