Balangir medical college hits dead-end : TOI report

March 25, 2011 at 3:41 pm Leave a comment

Following report is from TOI:

BALANGIR: Twelve years down the line since its establishment, the foundation structure of Balangir Medical College looks like an abandoned cemetery overridden with bushes and weeds. It was erected, if officials are to be believed, at a cost of Rs 27 lakh. The medical college was proposed by the Western Orissa Development Council (WODC) and was mooted in 1999 by the then chairman of the council, Narasingh Mishra. With WODC investing the money to establish the college, it was supposed to be owned by the government.

But work on the structure came to a halt in the year 2000 when Naveen Pattnaik came to power. Balangir, which has the biggest hospital in the four backward western Orissa districts, the other three being Kalahandi, Nuapada and Sonepur, is the lifeline of the people of these areas.

Had the Balangir Medical College been constructed, it would have catered health services to people of all four districts. “During my tenure as WODC chairman I had proposed the construction of the medical college in Balangir and had started the construction work with an initial investment of Rs 27 lakh,” said Mishra. He said the Naveen Pattnaik government, which came to power in 2000, deliberately stalled the project.

He added the medical college was primarily set up to offer better and cheaper health services keeping in view the economic condition of the people of this region, but the state government is now mulling handing over the project to some private party. Mishra said if the state government was not competent enough to handle the project, it should request the central government to construct the college.

“If at all the Balangir medical college is set up, it should be a government-owned college and not a private college because the poor people in this region can’t afford the health services to be offered by a private party,” said Mishra. He further said he recently had a discussion with the Union minister of health, Vilasrao Deshmukh, who promised to take necessary steps to see that medical college is set up in Balangir soon.

The project gains further significance in light of the fact that the Balangir headquarters hospital, which has been a referral institute for all the hospitals within a 50-km radius for the last 50 years, is now languishing in neglect, and is incapable of handling even a slightly-serious case. Although an ICU was set up here considering the inflow of patients from several neighbouring districts, it remains unused. The space outside the ICU sometimes turns into a rest shed for patients’ attendants. Balangir Medical College was mooted keeping in view the lack of required facilities and infrastructure at the headquarters hospital and the large number of patients’ turning up here.

Interestingly, the WODC last year had signed an MoU with Pondicherry-based Balaji Trust to take up the project, but the work didn’t progress. This is the third time the state government has signed an MoU for Balangir Medical College. Earlier, it had entered into an agreement with Hyderabad-based GSL Trust and Gaziabad-based Jassore Dental, Medical Education Health Foundation. After delay in the start of work, the MoU was cancelled and RVS Educational Trust was selected as the private sponsor. The trust expressed its inability to execute the project on February 17, 2010.

The earlier two agencies were reluctant to start the project citing non-cooperation by the WODC. Later, the new chairman, however, promised that the college would have 50 per cent management seats and 50 per cent government seats, with a certain percentage reserved for local students. However, he couldn’t explain why the progress was so slow and why it was being entrusted to a private party.

“At present, there is no one expressing interest in constructing the medical college. Its status remains in a state of embargo and no further decision in this regard has been taken,” said Niranjan Panda, present WODC chairman. Strangely, responding to mediapersons earlier, Balangir MLA and planning minister A U Singhdeo had said the medical college would be constructed, but it would take another three years. “I am waiting for my next term in the government. In the present term it is not possible,” Singhdeo had said bluntly at a media meet at his residence in Balangir.

The planning and coordination department sanctioned Rs 10 crore each for medical colleges in Rourkela and Kalahandi, but the Balangir Medical College remained ill-fated without any aid from the government. Officials said the proposed medical college at Balangir has reached a dead end. After WODC advertised seeking private partnership for the proposed colleges, there were two responses. But both the parties failed to satisfy the technical expertise criteria.

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Entry filed under: Balangir, Balangir Medical College (WODC), Balangir-Titilagarh-Patanagarh, Health Care Facility, Higher Education Zone, Region watch.

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