| The students protest in the principal’s chamber on Friday. A Telegraph picture
Siliguri, April 20: Students of North Bengal Medical College and Hospital (NBMCH) today began an indefinite movement after the verbal assurances given by the authorities last month of looking into their demands fell through.
The students have proposed to boycott classes and occupy the principal’s chamber for four hours every day during their agitation. Their demands include drinking water supply, filling up of vacant teaching posts in certain departments and better facilities at the hospital.
About 320 students, mainly from the first to third-year MBBS classes, entered the chamber of the principal, Udayan Ganguly, in the administrative building at noon today. They squatted on the floor and held up posters demanding immediate steps to meet their demands.
Final year students are being kept out of the purview of the movement. The other three years do not have any exams till January 2008.
“It is over a month now since we submitted a memorandum to Professor Ganguly, but except for verbal assurances, nothing has come through,” said Dhiraj Kumar, the president of North Bengal Medical College Students’ Union. “Our demands are totally logical and justified and must be met, considering the stature of this college.”
The demands, if met, would not only help the students but also benefit patients at the NBMCH. Drinking water, for one, is required in both the hostels and the wards of the hospital. At present, the requirement is met by a few deep tube-wells and bottled water bought from outside.
“Vacancies in most of the faculties, especially surgery and medicine, also need to be filled. Staff shortage is hampering the quality of teaching,” Kumar said.
Members of the CPM youth wing DYFI, too, presented a memorandum to the principal today, citing the same problems. The students, the DYFI and a section of the patients under the banner of Sangobaddho, the network of positive persons in north Bengal, have made a common demand of round-the-clock ECG, X-ray, USG, CT scan and pathology services. At present, CD-4 tests required for AIDS treatment are not being conducted at the NBMCH at all.
This issue has come to such a pass that private diagnostic clinics, the standards of some of which are questionable, have mushroomed all along the periphery of the hospital and college campus. There are allegations that touts take a fee from some patients to get their tests done at the NBMCH. “If the amount is good, these touts help the patient bypass the long waiting list for tests,” a student said.
The delay for USG or even an X-ray or pathological test referred to from the outpatients department range between two weeks and a month, the students added.
When contacted, the principal admitted that the demands were justified. “We have informed the higher authorities. The posts in the cardiology, nephrology and neurology departments have been sanctioned, but no one has been appointed yet” Ganguly said.