Six-time MLA and new health minister Brahm Mohindra promises to set things in order in the health and medical education depts.In a conversation with media persons, he sets his priorities straight: Streamline the two depts, probe `criminal wastage’ of funds by SAD-BJP
You have been the health minister earlier too. What issues need attention?
Being in opposition for two straight terms, I was surprised to note that people were dying of dengue and chikungunya, even as medical science has made much advancement. I have already convened a meeting of civil surgeons and heads of district administrations to draw a policy to prevent such deaths. Another major challenge I face is the crisis at Gian Sagar College and Hospital. The management is likely to shut the college down. Future of nearly 900 students has to be protected.
In its first meeting, the cabinet reduced liquor quota. Is alcohol a problem?
The SAD-BJP government had a twisted excise policy under which more than required liquor was supplied in the state and was beyond consumption. The quota which has been abolished was that of unconsumed liquor. There was a nexus between liquor contractors, distilleries and excise officials who used to exploit this loophole in the state’s excise policy to book profits without paying excise duties. The CM has plugged this.
Grants haven’t been used to improve facilities, medical colleges are short of staff and MCI has cut the number of medical seats. How will you tide over these issues?
The previous government showed little interest in improving things. I have asked senior officials of medical education and health departments to prepare a strategy by which all shortcomings of medical colleges can be overcome. I took charge two days ago. Give me three months. I will ensure that issues are resolved.
Does the entire system need an overhaul?
Yes. We need a regulator to oversee rising fees for medi cal courses at private col leges. We need more med ical colleges. Government hospitals need better equipment. The state needs more doctors in ru ral areas. The Con gress manifesto underlines this. From all documents I have gone through in the past two days, I am certain that the SAD-BJP neglected health and medical education. This will change now.
You are No. 2 among state ministers. When can we see the next cabinet expansion?
It will be inappropriate for me to comment on this. It’s the prerogative of chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh. He has put an efficient team together to lead the state into a prosperous era. The decisions he is taking are in the best interest of the state.
What about farm suicides?
We have reports of more than 150 farmers having committed suicide in Punjab. A team of ministers will be visiting areas where farmers have committed suicides and prepare a detailed report. I assure you that we will do all that is possible to put an end to this.
You were vocal against “sangat darshan” programmes of SAD-BJP.
It had come to my knowledge that in the past six months, SAD-BJP government took loans from two private banks by mortgaging government properties to pay for development works promised during sang at darshan events.This was a criminal wast age of funds, as sub-stan dard material was used in these works. Also, the construction was hur ried.We’ll look into the matter.Be rest assured, there will be no vendetta politics.