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Monday, September 20, 2021

Chhattisgarh medical college Bill cleared, Opposition amendments rejected

The college linked to the family of Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel's son-in-law will be acquired by the government at a cost of Rs 140 crore per year to the exchequer.

Written by Gargi Verma | Raipur |
Updated: July 30, 2021 7:29:45 am
The move has drawn controversy because of the medical college's links with CM Bhupesh Baghel's daughter’s in-laws. (File Photo)

The Chhattisgarh government Thursday passed the Chandulal Chandrakar Memorial Medical College (Acquisition) Bill, 2021, amidst strong opposition from the BJP. The college linked to the family of Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel’s son-in-law will be acquired by the government at a cost of Rs 140 crore per year to the exchequer.

For the first time in the state Assembly, the Opposition demanded a division of votes (which records how a member voted on a motion). Fifty-six MLAs voted in favour of the Bill, 16 against, while 18 did not vote. The House has 70 Congress MLAs, 15 of the BJP, and five of other parties. Amendments proposed by BJP leaders were rejected by a voice vote.

The Bill, piloted by Medical Education Minister T S Singh Deo, proposes to pay the owners of Chandulal Chandrakar Memorial Medical College twice its valuation sum. A special officer would be appointed by the government to undertake the valuation of the movable and immovable properties of the college.

The amendments moved by BJP leader Brijmohan Agarwal raised three points: that the existing employees be absorbed, that the government clarify who would pay the loans taken against the college, and that the exclusionary powers of the special officer be revoked so that his valuation decision could be challenged.

As per the Bill, employees of the college would be released from their duties following the government acquisition. It also states that owners are liable to repay the liabilities of the institute prior to the government takeover, and says no action can be taken against the special officer.

Arguing against the amendments, Singh Deo said, “The government cannot absorb private employees as hiring a government employee is a structural process. Once the college is acquired, we would follow the process and hire the employees. Similarly, the special officer will have to have powers to take decisions and not be affected by external factors.”

BJP MLA from Akaltara Saurabh Singh opposed the Bill on the grounds of process. “It is not clear if the government is only acquiring assets of a private company or the company itself. In any case, the Assembly should be made aware of the details filed by the company with the Registrar of Companies before passing the Bill. Without information on whether the company has clean books or not, how can we vote on the Bill?” he said.

Former CM and BJP leader Raman Singh brought up the unfavourable comments by the Medical Council of India (MCI) in 2018 and the National Medical Council (NMC) in 2020 regarding the college, as reported by The Indian Express Thursday. “When the Medical Council is saying that the college is inadequate, why is the government hell bent on acquiring it, if not for helping own family members?” he said.

The Indian Express first reported Tuesday the Chhattisgarh government’s plan to table the Bill to acquire the private medical college in Durg. Among its directors and shareholders are family members of Baghel’s son-in-law Kshitij Chandrakar.

Congress Durg MLA Devendra Yadav said the Opposition should feel ashamed. “When Covid-19 was at its peak, these hospitals were saving lives. The government is acquiring a readymade medical college with several students in it, to save their future and to ensure that the district has a medical college so that it can get good doctors. As an erstwhile student leader I wholeheartedly welcome the Bill,” he said.

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