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MBBS seat count dips further

Bengal lost another 145 MBBS seats and was left with only 1,155 on a day the state joint entrance examinations board published a list of around 4,000 medical aspirants.

The Medical Council of India on Thursday abolished 95 undergraduate seats at Calcutta Medical College and 50 at RG Kar Medical College because of infrastructural lapses and lack of enough teachers, said a council source.

Ten other medical colleges in the state have this year forfeited 900 MBBS seats on the same grounds as Calcutta Medical College and RG Kar.

Of the 12 medical colleges that have together lost 1,045 seats, 10 are run by the state government.

Calcutta Medical College, which admitted 250 students last year, will be able to take in only 155 this year. The seat count at RG Kar has been slashed from 200 to 150.

“The medical council has directed us not to admit students in these seats. Necessary steps are being taken to ensure that students do not suffer. We do not know exactly how many seats will be available this year,” said Sushanta Banerjee, the director of medical education in the state and a member of the state JEE board.

Till Wednesday, Banerjee sounded confident that the council, the apex regulatory body for medical education in the country, would conditionally restore the seats by August following appeals from the colleges.

Council sources said the MBBS seat count in other states has been slashed, too (see chart). They said Tamil Nadu has lost 1,150 seats, Andhra Pradesh 1,000 seats, Maharashtra 450 seats and Karnataka 920 seats.

However, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra had more than 5,000 MBBS seats each and Karnataka more than 6,000 before the slash.

Bengal seems to have been hit the hardest as it had only 2,200 berths.

“The council this year has been strict in enforcing its norms. That’s why so many medical colleges have failed to make the cut,” said a council source.

“We have been instructed to make surprise visits to the medical colleges. Earlier, the colleges used to be informed about a visit two-three days in advance. This year we are calling up the authorities only after entering the campuses,” said a council inspector.

“During inspections for MBBS seats, we have been asked to seek information about the postgraduate faculty, too. This is being done to prevent the practice of postgraduate teachers being shown as part of the MBBS faculty,” the inspector said.

A senior health department official said there was little planning before the government increased the number of MBBS seats and upgraded hospitals to medical colleges. “Such moves should have been preceded by at least five years’ planning,” the official said.

Some of the new colleges that have lost all their seats — like Sagore Dutta, Malda and Murshidabad — are in various stages of construction.

The JEE board on Friday announced a merit list of 4,433 students who are eligible to seek a berth in MBBS and BDS (dental) courses in the 2014-15 academic session.

Around 24,250 students had written the JEE (medical) this year, while 43,230 had appeared for the combined engineering-medical test.

Board chairman Bhaskar Gupta said those who had scored 50 per cent and above in JEE (medical) have been given a rank in the MBBS list. Aspiring MBBS candidates had to score at least 125 out of 250 in three papers — physics, chemistry and biology.

Medical education director Banerjee said the government would start counselling for the available berths instead of waiting for the medical council to decide on the appeals for restoring the 1,045 seats.

“We cannot wait as a Supreme Court order says the first round of counselling for and admission to state-run medical colleges must end by June 25,” said Banerjee. The dates for the first round of counselling will be announced soon. “If the council grants the appeals, we can gradually accommodate more students,” Banerjee said.