PPE kit scam: Amritsar Medical College top brass removed

The action came within 24 hours of initiating a fresh probe

Healthcare rep image (File) Representational image

Punjab government initiated action against Amritsar Government Medical College principal Dr. Sujata Sharma within 24 hours of a fresh probe into the alleged faulty PPE kit scam.

Dr. Sharma and vice principal Dr. Veena Chatrath were reportedly involved in ordering and procuring PPE kits which turned out to be substandard. The whistleblower, head of COVID-19 ward and HoD, medicine, Dr. Shiv Charan has been transferred to Government Medical College Patiala.

The college, one of the major COVID-19 management centres in the state, hit headlines in April when doctors, nurses and other healthcare staff at the hospital refused to use around 2,000 PPE kits alleging that they were substandard and did not include N-95 masks. They had also accused the authorities of paying around Rs 41 lakh for the kits which would not cost more than Rs 7 lakh. The fund was provided by Amritsar Lok Sabha MP Gurjeet Singh Aujla.

Dr. Charan had first moved the government, highlighting purchase of substandard PPE kits for the hospital staff. Following the complaint, Aujla sought a probe and subsequently Amritsar deputy commissioner Shiv Dular Singh Dhillon had marked an enquiry into the matter on April 24, but the administration dragged its feet over the issue.

It was only after the rap from Centre that the chief administrator of Amritsar Development Authority (ADA), Dr. Pallavi Chaudhary, took over the enquiry and started a probe. Twenty doctors, who were involved in COVID-19 management, were questioned on Wednesday, and within hours the transfers were announced. Dr. Sharma has been shifted back to her parent department, gynecology, as HoD, and Dr. Chatrath to anesthesia department. Dr. Rajiv Devgan will be the new principal of college and Dr. Jagdev Singh Kulhar will be the new vice principal.

A senior member of the enquiry committee revealed that they have been questioning not just the doctors but also the paramedic and sanitation staff. “We have have just started questioning and collected all documents pertaining to ordering, tendering and procurement of the kits. The quality checks and subsequent action on complaints are also being looked into”, revealed a senior official.