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Hospital Fire
Tikshan Sood quits
Panel to probe state of medical colleges in Punjab
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 1
Even as Punjab Medical Education Minister Tikshan Sood today tendered his resignation from the cabinet owning moral responsibility of the Rajindra Hospital fire in which five infants were killed, Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal said a high-level committee had been formed to look into the health of all three government medical colleges of the state.

The committee, according to Sukhbir, will be headed by a Chief Engineer and will submit its report within a month.

“I am so shocked over the incident that I have decided to tender my resignation from the Punjab cabinet with immediate effect and I own the moral responsibility of the incident,” said Sood after taking a round of the Rajindra Hospital.

His resignation, in fact, is being viewed as a path-breaking step and lauded by people who feel that such actions can restore people’s faith in the collapsing system. Sood categorically said Principal of the Government Medical College and Hospital here Jaswinder Pal Kaur Shergill owed certain degree of responsibility and that she had not got any prior permission to proceed on station leave.

“We have been receiving complaints regularly that she was leaving her station on weekends to go to Amritsar. She had not been sanctioned any station leave. The negligence was so intense that she arrived very late at the spot of tragedy. We suspended her and other hospital officials on the basis of a preliminary probe conducted immediately after the incident by the Punjab Director of Medical Research and Education.

“It was not like as it was being projected in a section of the media that she and other officials were suspended without any probe,” added Sood.

On the other hand, Shergil claimed that she had duly taken permission for her station leave.

While advising that no one should indulge in ‘petty politics’ over the tragedy, Sukhbir Badal said a high-level committee had been formed by the government to determine the shortcomings in all three state-run medical colleges-cum-hospitals of the state.

“We are not going to take the incident lightly. Steps are being taken to ensure no such tragic incident occurred in the future in Punjab. Not only that the committee would be looking into shortcomings of these institutes alone, but the government would be reviewing the state of hospitals after every three months as well. Moreover, officials responsible for the negligence would be given exemplary punishment,” said Sukhbir.

Meanwhile, associations of junior doctors and a group of nurses held a protest against medical college officials’ suspension as Sud was taking round of the hospital. They claimed the officials had been made scapegoats by the government. “If the minister concerned can tender his resignation on moral grounds then why those responsible for the incident could not take such a step to show their concern for the common man?” questioned a resident.

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