Amid PPE kits scam, Amritsar govt medical college principal, vice-principal removed
In April, healthcare staff at Amritsar government hospital had refused to use around 2,000 PPE kits, alleging they were substandard; the authorities were accused of paying Rs 41 lakh for kits that should not have cost more than Rs 7 lakhUpdated: Jul 02, 2020 13:46 IST
Amritsar: A day after inquiry into the personal protective equipment (PPE) kits scam began, the department of medical education and research removed Dr Sujata Sharma as principal of the Government Medical College, Amritsar, and appointed radiotherapy department head Dr Rajiv Kumar Devgan in her place.
Vice-principal Dr Veena Valecha was also removed and Dr Jagdev Singh Kular, professor, anatomy, replaced her.
Dr Shiv Charan, the head of the medicine department and the nodal officer of Covid-19 at the hospital, was also transferred to Government Medical College, Patiala.
Though college sources said that the transfers were linked to the purchase of substandard PPE kits in April to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, state medical research and education minister OP Soni said the issue was unrelated.
“Some officials of the department of medical education and research visited GMC, Amritsar, a few days ago and a decision was taken in a meeting. Officials at other government medical colleges have also been transferred. The decision has no link with the PPE kits scam,” Soni said.
DK Tiwari, principal secretary, medical education and research, said, “The decision was taken for administrative reasons in public interest.”
When contacted, Dr Sujata Sharma said, “The PPE kits were purchased by the medical superintendent. The GMC authorities are not responsible for buying any equipment for the hospital.”
She said, “The medical education department sent the transfer orders and cited that in view of the increase in Covid-19 deaths at GMC, Amritsar, the decision has been taken. The hospital tries its level best to save every life but the Covid-19 patients in Amritsar are not being detected at an early stage by the administration and civil surgeon office.”
SCAM UNEARTHED IN APRIL
In April, doctors, nurses and other healthcare staff at the hospital refused to use around 2,000 PPE kits procured, alleging that they were substandard and did not include N-95 masks.
They also accused the authorities of paying Rs 41 lakh for the kits, which according to the them, should not have cost more than Rs 7 lakh.
The medical superintendent of Guru Nanak Dev Hospital (the hospital with GMC) Dr Raman Sharma, had bought the kits on behalf of GNDH.
Subsequently, Amritsar deputy commissioner Shiv Dular Singh Dhillon marked an inquiry on April 24.
Amritsar member of Parliament Gurjit Singh Aujla, who issued a grant of Rs 1 crore to the medical college to fight Covid-19, wrote to the government demanding a probe. In mid-June, he again wrote to the Union ministry of statistics and programme implementation complaining that the inquiry was being delayed. On June 23, the Centre wrote to the Punjab government to complete the inquiry in a time-bound manner. The state government then entrusted the inquiry to the chief administrator, Amritsar Development Authority, who began the probe on June 30. The statements of 20 doctors were recorded.