WHILE ALLOWING private firms to set up profit-making medical colleges, Health Minister J P Nadda last month approved amendment in the Establishment of Medical College Regulations 1999 to remove the 10-acre campus area stipulation as well as lower the population criterion from 25 lakhs to 10 lakhs.
According to the proposed change, a medical college can be set up in any city with a 10 lakh-plus population, provided the promoter has 60,000 square metres of floor space to house the college, hospital and housing facilities.
The amendment in the “qualifying criteria” says: “In metropolitan areas, as defined in Article 243P (c) of the Constitution, the medical college should have total built up area required for adequate infrastructure, including college, affiliated teaching hospital, residential quarters and other infrastructure required as per the applicable minimum standard requirement regulations, in the unitary piece of land owned and possessed by them”.
In October 2012, the clause was that the institution be housed in a unitary campus of at least 20 acres of land except in mega cities where the permissible FAR/ FSI was the criterion, provided that the total built up area for college, hospital, hostel, residential quarters etc was made available “in an area of not less than 10 acres”.
Article 243 (P) allows the state to declare any city with a population of over 10 lakh as metropolitan area through the Governor by a public notification.
Sources said the minimum required built up area would be fixed at 60,000 square metres.
The scaling down of campus area requirement in land-scarce cities and the change in nomenclature from urban agglomerations/ cities with population of 25 lakhs-plus to metropolitan areas are aimed at increasing the number of medical colleges to tide over the shortage of doctors. India has a huge deficit as far as medical professionals are concerned, with the doctor-patient ratio stuck at 1:2000.
Nadda has also approved amendment in the “eligibility criteria” to allow “all companies registered under the Companies Act 1956” to apply for permission to set up a medical college, thereby permitting the institution to be a profit-making enterprise.
“Various private organisations, including companies, have been requesting the government to allow private participation for establishment of colleges as a business venture,” the ministry told the Medical Council of India which makes the changes.