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Seat slash to stay, says secy

Ranchi, Aug. 13: Dealing a blow to hundreds of MBBS hopefuls, Union health secretary Lov Verma today expressed his inability to bail out Jharkhand’s three medical colleges from the ongoing MBBS seat-slash crisis.

Barely 18 days before the MBBS academic session is slated to start from September 1, Verma is learnt to have clearly told state principal secretary (health) B.K. Tripathi in New Delhi today that he had no role to play now.

This statement is an implicit admission that the state’s dilly-dallying over the Medical Council of India’s recommendations in May for medical colleges to upgrade infrastructure and manpower has cost it dearly.

Health minister Rajendra Prasad Singh, in Dhanbad today, who told The Telegraph in the evening about what transpired between the central and state health secretaries in New Delhi, said he was prepared to go to Delhi to speak personally to his central counterpart Harsh Vardhan.

Reacting sharply to the “Union health ministry’s indifference towards Jharkhand”, Singh added: “The three medical institutes in Jharkhand are in much better condition than many other institutes that have been permitted to retain seats.”

For now, he said he had asked the three medical college heads S.N. Choudhary, P.K. Senger and A.N. Mishra of RIMS (Ranchi), PMCH (Dhanbad) and MGM (Jamshedpur), respectively, to put forth the state’s case properly before the Centre and the MCI.

“If that doesn’t work out, I will speak to Union health minister Harsh Vardhanji myself. All doors are not closed,” he said.

A belligerent minister added: “Aise kaise seatein ghata denge? Apne yehan ke colleges kai collegeon se behtar hain. Main naam lekar aur unki facilities ko point out kar ke ginwa sakta hoon ki RIMS, PMCH aur MGM kaise behtar hain. (How can they just slash seats? Our colleges are much better than many colleges. I can tell the names of many colleges and point out facility-wise how RIMS, PMCH and MGM are better).”

With the Assembly elections coming up, the ruling government can’t afford to cut a sorry figure on this high-profile issue.

Opposition leader of arch-rival BJP and former chief minister Arjun Munda also wrote a widely reported memo to Union minister Harsh Vardhan on this issue yesterday.

“I will propose a high-level committee inspection of the three institutes. I will suggest the MCI team to be unbiased towards Jharkhand,” said Singh, a Congress MLA widely held to be the No. 2 in the Hemant Soren-led JMM-Congress-RJD coalition.

“We will definitely find out a way for the students,” Singh promised.

The minister told The Telegraph that he asked health department officials to immediately work upon a budget of Rs 75 crore to upgrade all three medical institutes according to MCI guidelines, immediately sort out all faculty-related issues and list the names of those who needed to be promoted.