Ranchi/Patna, Aug. 12: Jharkhand woke up to the MBBS seat-slash crisis today as health department principal secretary B.K. Tripathi managed to wrangle an appointment with his central counterpart Lov Verma in Delhi tomorrow in what will be the first personal interface with the Centre, something that neighbouring Bihar did two months ago.
The state health department also directed the dean of RIMS (Ranchi), S.N. Choudhary, and principals of PMCH (Dhanbad) and MGM (Jamshedpur) P.K. Senger and A.N. Mishra to reach New Delhi on Thursday to meet Medical Council of India (MCI) and Union health ministry representatives with presentations on the institutes.
But what Patna did in June-end, Ranchi is doing in mid-August.
Faced with MCI’s brutal assessment that 160 of 350 seats across three state-run medical colleges needed trimming as the institutes lacked infrastructure and manpower, Ranchi mandarins pretended to be ostriches till the Centre backed the council and students came out on streets in protest yesterday.
In Bihar, the MCI had voiced similar displeasure over the facilities at Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences in Patna and Government Medical College, Bettiah. However, as Jharkhand’s tearful students told officiating chief secretary Sajal Chakraborty yesterday in Ranchi, the MCI allowed Bihar medical colleges to retain the seats.
Where Bihar scored over Jharkhand was in its old-fashioned seriousness of intent. A team of senior health officials from Patna camped in Delhi in June to brief MCI officials about corrective steps based on the council’s assessment.
What R.P. Ojha, additional secretary in Bihar’s health department, did was to assure the MCI that his state would address all the anomalies.
“We gave an undertaking of principals of the colleges concerned about the steps to be taken to overcome the deficiencies,” Ojha told The Telegraph today.
“We promised the MCI through an undertaking that deficiencies in the colleges concerned would be rectified in a time-bound manner and all facilities in medical colleges would be put in place before the next academic session commenced. We also sent an undertaking of the chief secretary,” he continued.
Even last year, Bihar health department gave an undertaking before the MCI when 50 seats of the prestigious Patna Medical College came under the scanner. Then chief minister Nitish Kumar had personally written to the Centre, causing the MCI to relent.
Asking an almost-14-year-old state to take a page from Big Brother’s book can be an affront. But, in the case of dealing with the MBBS seat slash imbroglio impacting hundreds of careers, Jharkhand could have followed Bihar’s example by being proactive on time. But, Jharkhand is taking similar steps now after wasting crucial months. After all, the MCI’s first warning reached the medical colleges in mid-May.
But joint secretary (health) B.K. Mishra maintained they did not know.
On why he waited so long, when Odisha, Bengal and Bihar succeeded in saving their seats, Mishra said: “States that attended MCA’s July 12 meeting in Delhi or started communicating with MCI and the Centre before that were able to save their seats. We were communicated very late.”
Today, Opposition leader and former chief minister Arjun Munda wrote a letter to Union health and family welfare minister Harsh Vardhan, requesting him to bail out medical students this year.