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MBBS seats slashed by 750

- Medical ‘miracle’ needed to comply with norms in 3 months

Bengal will have 750 MBBS seats less to offer this year unless colleges that have failed the Medical Council of India (MCI)’s compliance test are able to do over the next three months what they couldn’t in three years.

The MCI, which regulates medical education in the country, has either barred admission or cut seats in eight state-run and private colleges because of their failure to comply with infrastructure and manpower norms.

Unlike the previous two years when the state government’s undertaking to ensure compliance had been accepted, there is no guarantee that another last-minute request would be granted.

“We have asked the medical colleges not to admit students against the cancelled number of seats unless the requisite norms are fulfilled. If the state government submits a fresh undertaking and the Centre refers it to us, the executive council will decide on that,” Jayshreeben Mehta, president of the MCI, told Metro from Delhi on Tuesday.

The decision to reduce the number of seats from 2,200 to 1,550 was communicated to the state government through a letter last week, sources said.

Sushanta Banerjee, director of medical education, said a formal request had already been sent to Delhi and the MCI to allow admission on the basis of an undertaking to comply with the norms. “We are taking steps to comply with the norms. We expect the problem to be solved soon.”

Of the eight medical colleges under the scanner, seven are state-run institutions. They are NRS Medical College, Bankura Sammilani Medical College, Burdwan Medical College, Malda Medical College, Murshidabad Medical College, College of Medicine and Sagore Dutta Hospital and ESI Medical College, Joka.

Durgapur IQ City, a new private medical college, has also been asked not to admit students this year.

Bengal has fewer medical seats than many other states and 750 less than last year would be a blow to the career aspirations of scores of students hoping to become doctors. Nearly 1.2 lakh students wrote the state joint entrance examinations for engineering and medical (combined) in April. The results are likely to be declared in June and the new academic session starts in August.

“The seat slash means it has become even more difficult for us to get into a medical college, which I think is unfair,” said Kaju Banerjee, a joint entrance examinee.

The deficiencies pointed out by the MCI include inadequate space on campuses and in classrooms, poor hostel facilities, laboratories and libraries that haven’t been upgraded in years and the shortage of teachers.

In the new state-run medical colleges at Kamarhati, Malda and Murshidabad, academic blocks, hostels and other buildings are still under construction. “The government’s policy of allotting contracts to the lowest bidders is faulty and has led to the delay in construction,” an official at Swastha Bhavan, the headquarters of the health department, said.

In the older institutions such as NRS and Bankura Sammilani, the main problem is shortage of manpower. “We are short of PG seats, which is why Bengal doesn’t produce enough teachers for medical colleges,” an official said.