July 29, 2021 4:18:47 am
The Bhupesh Baghel government Wednesday went ahead and tabled a Bill to acquire a private medical college in Durg — a move that has drawn controversy because of its links with his daughter’s in-laws — at double the valuation. The valuation will be decided by a state-appointed Special Officer in six-twelve months.
Called the Chhattisgarh Chandulal Chandrakar Memorial Medical College, Durg (Acquisition) Bill, 2021, it notes that the decision will cost the exchequer Rs 140 crore a year.
The Bill, piloted by T S Singh Deo, Medical Education Minister, justifies paying double the valuation to the owners of the college since it is a “compulsory acquisition”. The Statement of Object and Reasons of the Bill, however, notes that the current owners had requested the state government to acquire the college given their financial difficulties. Sources in the government said the acquisition was compulsory from the students’ future point of view.
The college is owned by Chandulal Chandrakar Memorial Hospital (CCMH), a private unlisted company, which has 59 shareholders. Promoted by members of the Chandrakar community, it is named after Chandulal Chandrakar, who was a five-term Congress MP from Durg, and a Union Minister.
The price to be paid for the college may not be the only thing set to further stir controversy around the Durg-based college. While Baghel has defended the acquisition as necessary for the future of students, as late as July 1 this year, the Department of Medical Education Secretary had written a letter to the Advocate General for transfer of Chandulal Chandrakar students to other medical colleges “keeping in mind the general welfare and for the future of the students”.
Documents by the National Medical Council (NMC) and Medical Council of India (MCI) pertaining to the college, accessed by The Indian Express, also show that officials had pointed out serious irregularities in its running.
The Indian Express reported Tuesday that the Chhattisgarh government planned to bring a Bill to acquire Chandulal Chandrakar Memorial Medical College. The director of the college is related to Baghel’s son-in-law Kshitij Chandrakar.
Under Opposition fire over the decision, Baghel Wednesday met some students of the college before the Assembly proceedings began, while reiterating that his government was only thinking about their future.
On April 12, 2018, the MCI had held an annual meeting in which recognition for Chandulal Chandrakar college was discussed. According to the minutes of the meeting, it “decided to recommend not to recognize/approve Chandulal Chandrakar Memorial Medical College… for the award of MBBS degree (150 seats)”, based on “non-genuine patients”, and “unprepared” and “lesser-than-needed” residents.
The council noted, “Except for Ophthalmology and OBG (obstetrics and gynaecology), there was not a single post-operative patient lying in surgical and allied surgical specialties wards who was operated 1-3 days earlier (5th to 7th April 2018), although OT register was full of entries of various operative procedures, putting a question mark on the validity of these entries. In tough language, it can be termed as fraudulent.”
The statement of objectives of the Bill tabled on Wednesday says the college has permission of the NMC to run an MBBS course. This was reiterated by official spokesperson and Chhattisgarh Agriculture Minister Ravindra Chaubey on Tuesday, who told the press that the college also had the MCI’s permission and the necessary infrastructure.
While permission is granted by the MCI when a college is established, the degree it provides or the admission process depends on the recognition of the medical college when its first batch graduates. The college has been continuously denied recognition since 2018.
In an October 2020 letter, the NMC said the college was being granted recognition for the MBBS course “for batch of students admitted in the academic year 2015-2016 only”. “It was also decided not to permit intake of the next batch for 150 MBBS seats for the academic year 2020-21”, citing “deficiency of the faculty and residents to the tune of 55% each” as the main factor.
The July 1, 2021, letter by the Secretary of Department of Medical Education recommending transfer of students of Chandulal Chandrakar college was pertaining to a petition filed in the High Court in 2019 by 55 of its students from the batches after 2016. In March this year, the students submitted an application seeking reallocation to other government-run medical colleges in the state. The letter from the department said this could be done if there was an increase in seats in existing colleges and if the NMC permits the same; if the High Court ordains it; if parents and students submit an affidavit; and if Chhattisgarh Ayush University, which oversees functioning of medical colleges in the state, allows it.
The students have claimed “irreparable damage” in terms of loss of years of education.
Local Congress leader Amit Chandraker, who is the grandnephew of Chandulal Chandrakar after whom the college is named, also contested the government decision to acquire the college. “They are claiming it is for the betterment of students. But there are no new students, only old batches of already admitted students who are looking for transfer to other colleges. Even if the government starts the acquisition process, these students would have lost their precious years.”
Currently the college has only two batches, from 2016 and 2017, with all the consecutive years being zero years, says Executive Director Devkumar Chandrakar.
Baghel’s social media statement mentioned that around 180 students are currently studying in the college, while over 300 had graduated from it.
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