New Delhi: The Delhi government was not against the city’s private hospitals but it would not hesitate to act sternly in cases of criminal negligence and “looting of patients", chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Saturday.

Kejriwal said it takes courage to cancel the licence of a leading healthcare facility like the Max Hospital in Shalimar Bagh. His comments came a day after the Delhi government decided to cancel the licence of the hospital for alleged medical negligence on multiple instances, including one in which it wrongly declared an alive baby dead on 30 November. The baby’s body was handed over to their parents in a plastic bag, along with his still-born sister. He died during treatment at a nursing home in Pitampura a week later.

The Delhi Medical Association and the Indian Medical Association have criticised the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government’s decision to cancel the license of the private hospital as harsh. The DMA called the decision “irrational and autocratic" and wrote to Kejriwal on Saturday seeking withdrawal of the order. In its letter, marked also to health minister Satyender Jain, the doctors’ body said the government should wait for the Delhi Medical Council’s report expected in a few days.

Kejriwal, however, attacked the previous dispensation in Delhi, alleging they were often hand in glove with the “big" and the mighty. “If we had entered into any setting with the hospital, we would not have been able to face our conscience and would have lost the faith of the people. We are not against private hospitals. But we will not hesitate to act sternly in cases of criminal negligence and looting of patients," he said.

Citing his government’s handling of discoms, he said power tariffs had not risen in Delhi in the past three years. Attacking his political rivals, he claimed “some powers" were trying to crush him and his party. The chief minister sought people’s support so that he can work “honestly".

Kejriwal was speaking at the launch of the ‘Jai Bhim Mukhyamantri Pratibha Vikas Yojna’, as part of which students from Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Castes and minority communities would be able to join coaching centres to prepare for competitive exams and the Delhi government will provide an assistance of up to Rs40,000. They will be able to prepare for examinations conducted by the UPSC, the DSSSB, the SSC, the Railway Recruitment Board, besides medical, engineering and other competitive examinations, Kejriwal said.

Under this scheme, 75% of admissible coaching fee would be provided by the government and the remaining 25% would be borne by the students. However, in case of students having a total family income of up to Rs2 lakh, full admissible coaching fee would be given by the government.

Initially, 100 meritorious students would be sponsored under the scheme. From next year it would be made available to 5,000 students, Kejriwal said at the function organised by the Delhi government to mark the ‘Parinirvan Diwas’ of Dr B.R. Ambedkar at Talkatora Stadium.

Kejriwal said his government was translating Ambedkar’s dreams into actions by making education accessible to the poor and vulnerable sections of the society. He said his government has transformed the education sector in the past three years and doubled the budget for education. The chief minister also announced that his government would soon launch a scheme to give loans to the poor and needy to start their ventures and become self-reliant.