Calcutta, Aug. 24: The Medical Council of India has decided not to grant, for the time being, permission to Bengal to add 100 MBBS seats to SSKM Hospital and another 100 to the newly set-up Midnapore Medical College and Hospital, senior council officials said today from Delhi on condition of anonymity.
The decision, eagerly waited for by state health authorities, was taken at a meeting of the medical council in Delhi yesterday.
“Because of the lack of infrastructure at the two hospitals, we could not grant permission for the seats,” said an official of the council. “If we receive a second application from the Bengal government, we will again hold inspections and consider it.”
Health officials in Calcutta, however, maintained that they had not yet received any official intimation on this score from the Centre. They said another meeting of the medical council is slated for September 15 in Delhi. Health secretary Asim Barman is expected to visit the capital during that time to impress upon the council and central health ministry officials to grant permission for the 200 seats.
Officials, however, said that though the Centre reserves the right to overrule the council’s decision, the state government is unlikely to press it. The state government will, instead, press for a re-inspection of SSKM and Midnapore Medical College and Hospital.
“We will decide on our next course of action after we receive the official letter (regarding the council’s decision) from the Centre where we had applied for approval of the seats. The MCI is a recommending body and the final decision comes from the Union government,” said director of medical education C.R. Maity.
If the state government does not get the council’s approval for at least 100 seats at the SSKM, it plans to introduce a pay-and-study scheme. Health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra had said in the Assembly last month that the government would not “disturb” the existing 905 medical seats meant for joint entrance examination candidates.
Mishra also said he would not budge from the statement he made at the Assembly and if the medical council approval does not come through this year, the enhanced fee quota would not come into effect this academic session.
The Calcutta branch of the Indian Medical Association today threatened the government with a public interest litigation if it did not immediately fill up the 70 medical seats kept aside for students ready to pay a huge amount and study. Out of the 905 existing medical seats in the undergraduate level, the government has filled up only 835 seats.
“Since the MCI has already rejected the government’s application for 200 additional seats, they must immediately fill up the remaining 70 seats which are lying vacant. If the government does not do it, we will go for large-scale agitation,” said R.D. Dubey, the former secretary of the association’s Calcutta branch and present joint secretary (headquarters). The decision was taken after a daylong meeting.
The Guardian’s Forum, comprising parents of students who fared well in the joint entrance exams but could not make it to the MBBS course this year, has announced that it will join the medical association in the agitation.