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Delhi dash for more medical seats

Calcutta, Aug. 20: Health secretary Asim Barman today rushed to Delhi to lobby the Medical Council of India (MCI) for 200 additional seats in the MBBS course in two medical colleges in the state.

The MCI is expected to recommend an increase in the number of seats before the Union health ministry on Friday. The ministry will put its seal of approval on the number of seats suggested and announce its decision shortly.

The state government has demanded 200 new seats, 100 each in the Institute of Post-graduate Medical Education and Research (IPGMER) in SSKM hospital here and in the Midnapore Medical College, in addition to the 905 seats available to undergraduate students. An MCI team had visited both the institutions this month.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra had requested Union health minister Sushma Swaraj, during her visit to the city earlier this month, for the additional seats. Bhattacharjee had also taken up the matter with deputy Prime Minister .K. Advani. “We expect that the Centre will meet our demand and help obtain the MCI approval,” Mishra said.

The government plans to admit students for the additional seats by taking hefty amounts, which Writers’ Buildings terms as “enhanced fees”. An entrance test has already been conducted for these seats, for which nearly 1,700 aspirants had turned up.

“We have information that the MCI will submit its observation on Friday and the Centre will inform us their decision in accordance with the report. We expect that we shall get approval for 100 new seats as we have complied with almost all directives of the MCI. We are ready to hold classes immediate after the approval,” said IPGMER director A.K. Maity.

Health officials, however, not sure whether another 100 seats for the Midnapore medical college will be approved as the MCI team had frowned on the infrastructure there during its visit.

It was not satisfied with the hospital and other medical facilities available there and said any medical college must have a full-fledged hospital with specialists.

Officials said the MCI team is scheduled to visit the Midnapore medical college again on September 5.

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