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MBBS seat slash order jolts state

Ranchi, July 28: State health minister Rajendra Prasad Singh has drafted a letter for his counterpart at the Centre, Harsh Vardhan, requesting him not to cut down MBBS seats of two state-run medical colleges in Ranchi and Dhanbad, at least for this year, despite Medical Council of India (MCI) recommendations.

An extremely critical MCI wrote to the Centre on Saturday, seeking seats at Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) in Ranchi be cut from 150 to 90 and Patliputra Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) in Dhanbad from 100 to 50. It said both colleges lacked the infrastructure to merit so many students.

A copy of the MCI letter was sent to the state health department as well.

However, earlier this month, RIMS admitted 101 students and PMCH 72, 11 and 22 more than what the medical council approves.

More than a prestige issue, which it undoubtedly is, Singh is requesting Union minister Vardhan to keep matters as they are to salvage the careers of these 33 students. “Seats ko banaye rakhne ke prayas kiye jayenge (We will keep on trying to hold on to our seats),” Singh said.

In 2011, MBBS seats of RIMS were increased from 90 to 150. In 2013, PMCH doubled its seat count from 50 to 100.

But, all along, the MCI had been grumbling about infrastructure lacunae in these two colleges. Now, with Saturday’s letter to the Centre, the panel has made its discontent official.

The third state-run medical college, MGM in Jamshedpur, won’t be spared as well. According to highly placed sources, the MCI has identified 27 grey areas in the college, which has 100 seats. A seat slash recommendation appears imminent for MGM as well.

Joint secretary of health department B.K. Mishra said the MCI letter recommended immediate reduction in seats, naming the two medical institutes in Ranchi and Dhanbad. However, he sounded worried about the future of students.

“Counselling of medical students has been done and many students have taken admission in both institutes. We have to find a way out otherwise students’ careers would be affected,” he said.

RIMS dean S.N. Choudhary ducked phone calls made by The Telegraph today. Officiating director of RIMS S.K. Choudhary only said: “I can’t speak on this matter.”

In Dhanbad, when PMCH principal P.K. Senger was contacted, he denied any knowledge of the matter. “I don’t know about any MCI recommendation so I should not comment at this stage. What I do know is that we obey central directives. The MCI can only recommend. The Centre takes the final call,” he told The Telegraph.

But, neither the state health mandarins nor the medical college principals can pretend that the MCI recommendation is a bolt from the blue.

The MCI, during a series of inspections, had maintained it was unhappy with the number of faculty members, technical facilities at the colleges and the condition of student hostels. The medical colleges did precious little in response.

Prodded on this, joint secretary Mishra said: “This is not the time to discuss what has not been done and why. We have to immediately think about restoring the seats. Then, necessary steps will be taken to develop the institutes according to MCI guidelines.”