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Record of Punjab health body PHSC officer riddled with questions

Even after Vipin Sharma’s controversial retirement, he was provided two years of extension that ends this year. He now holds charge as director of finance in the NRHM too.

punjab Updated: Jan 22, 2018 10:07 IST
Ravinder Vasudeva
Ravinder Vasudeva
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
PHSC,Punjab Health Systems Corporation,Rs 800 crore
Vipin Sharma

Purchase of medicines worth hundreds of crores made by the Punjab Health Systems Corporation (PHSC) for government hospitals has come under the scanner as its finance officer, Vipin Sharma, through whom the money was spent, continues to have a service record that leaves several gaps. The PHSC buys medicines worth Rs 800 crore a year

Documents available with HT says Sharma, who was originally an employee of Spinfed, an apex body of co-operative spinning mills, and served on deputation with the PHSC till 2005 when the state government dissolved the Spinfed and settled all dues of the employees through a Golden Handshake Scheme.

However, Sharma did not go back to his parent body, and continues to be in service with what is referred to as the “foreign department” (PHSC in this case).

Punjab Health Systems Corporation and National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) MD Varun Roojam was not available for comment.

Why not terminated?

A letter exchanged between Spinfed and PHSC — copy with HT — Spinfed gave the PHSC the option to absorb Sharma, but that was not done.

This letter of March 31, 2005, says, “As Spinfed has been dissolved, it has been decided to allow extension to Sharma for maximum period of a year during which the foreign employer (PHSC) may take decision about his absorption. In case [he] is not absorbed, in that case liquidator (Spinfed) would be left with no alternative but to repatriate [him] and subsequent disengagement from service as per law.”

Nothing happened between 2005 and 2012, and government files have no record of his services in the PHSC even as he continued to hold the position. On November 20, 2012, he was relieved from the PHSC to join the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) as director (finance), and manager of finance (programme implementation plan), that too when there was a regular director on the job.

Retirement raises questions

He was due to retire in July 2016 at the age of 58, and that’s when an attempt was made to regularise his services by the director (administration), PHSC, by getting extension from the erstwhile Spinfed. However, Spinfed categorically said he no longer its employee. Sharma, when contacted, claimed that this letter was result of “some miscommunication” on the part of Spinfed. “I got it rectified later,” he said. However, there is no record of such a “rectification” available with the PHSC.

Finally, Spinfed retired Sharma on June 26, 2016, contrary to its earlier stance. The PHSC paid the retirement dues?

Two more years

It gets murkier. Even after his controversial retirement, he was provided two years of extension that ends this year. He now holds charge as director of finance in the NRHM too. “His service is a big scandal,” a senior PHSC officer said. Sharma refutes the allegations. “You can check my reputation in the department. All this is a conspiracy.” PHSC and NRHM MD Varun Roojam was not available for comment.

First Published: Jan 22, 2018 10:06 IST