Monday, November 19, 2018
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Canteens ‘fleece’ patients, kin as PGI shuts eyes

Tea, coffee and eatables being sold for double the amount; items not on list also being sold blatantly19 Nov 2018 | 10:44 AM

CHANDIGARH:With the PGI becoming a “mute spectator”, various canteens at the institute are allegedly fleecing poor patients and attendants by charging exorbitant rates on most eatables and beverages.

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Sandeep Rana

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 18

With the PGI becoming a “mute spectator”, various canteens at the institute are allegedly fleecing poor patients and attendants by charging exorbitant rates on most eatables and beverages. The rates being charged are much more than those approved by the institute.

Despite various complaints having been made to the PGI authorities, no stringent action has been taken even as the practice continues unabated. For mere formality sake, nominal fines have been imposed from time to time.

Many of these canteens are selling items which these are not entitled to sell as per the approved rate list. Canteens do not mind even playing with the health of patients as open juice is being sold in canteens like the one at the new OPD. Only tetra pack is allowed due to hygiene issues in the overcrowded OPD. 

The rates approved for tea and coffee are Rs 5 and Rs 10, respectively. However, at most canteens, both these items are being sold for double the amount. Rakhi, supervisor at the OPD canteen, reasoned, “We have a small glass of tea available for Rs 5.” However, it was found they have displayed only Rs 10 for a cup of tea and customers remain unaware of the approved rate.

A parantha is being sold for Rs 30, fresh juice for Rs 50, while the rate of a thali goes up to Rs 60 at the new OPD. Shockingly, none of these items are listed on the approved list. A tuck shop opposite the library is selling junk food like patties openly without any fear even junk food items are not on the approved list of the PGI. The list was accessed under the RTI Act. Similar is the scenario in other canteens as the PGI turns a blind eye to the violations. 

“It all happens in connivance with officials. During the tendering process, contractors are asked to fill less number of items and are later allowed to sell more items at exorbitant prices. This way poor people, who are already stressed, are cheated. Contractors are reportedly assured that strict action such as cancellation of the licence will not be taken against them. To play safe at their end, officials impose a minimal penalty of Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,500 for violations,” alleged Beant Kamboj, a member of a PGI union.

Ashwani Kumar Munjal, president of the PGI Staff Union, said, “It is a big nexus involving lakhs of rupees. Suppose officials allot a 10x10 area to a canteen contractor, the latter occupies a 40x40 area. If the contractor is paying Rs 1 lakh as rent, he uses space of about Rs 8 lakh. Even if the contractor is challaned, he ends up paying a small amount. We have complained in this regard several times, but no action has taken as officials are hand in glove.”

Chandigarh Tribune sent a written query to the PGI in this regard. However, officials did not answer the query.

Panel looks into such issues: PGI

PGI’s official spokesperson Manju Wadwalaker, however, said, “The PGI has a committee in this regard which keeps a check on any irregularities in canteens. The committee also imposes penalty from time to time.”

Canteens ‘fleece’ patients, kin as PGI shuts eyesA view of the new OPD canteen at the PGI. Tribune photo: Pradeep Tewari
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