Stalin up in arms against Centre’s recent notification

New Delhi: A notification by the National Medical Commission on restricting the opening of new medical colleges has created a “regressive scenario” and should be kept in abeyance, the Tamil Nadu government said on Wednesday.

Chief Minister M K Stalin urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to instruct the Union Health Ministry to keep the notification in abeyance and initiate a consultative process to address the matter.

I wish to draw your kind attention to the regressive scenario created by the recent notification issued by the NMC to restrict the opening of new medical colleges. It has been notified by the NMC that after the academic year 2023-2024, the Letter of Permission for starting new medical colleges shall be issued only for an annual intake capacity of 50/100/150 seats, provided that the medical college shall follow the ratio of 100 MBBS seats for 10 lakh population in that State/ UT.”
This is a “direct encroachment” on the rights of all State governments and penalisation of those who have invested more in their public health infrastructure over the years, the CM said.

He said progressive states like Tamil Nadu have been strengthening their tertiary healthcare network for many decades, leading to ample availability of doctors and nurses, which he said has manifested in their better performance in terms of various health indicators.

Chennai has emerged as the healthcare capital of India. In both public and private sectors, our skilled medical professionals have been able to successfully serve not only the people of Tamil Nadu but also of other states as well as other nations. This has generated a huge demand for quality health services and new institutions are absolutely necessary for us to cater to it in the future, Stalin added.

The criterion proposed for such restriction, higher doctor-population ratio at the state level as compared to the norms, is also not appropriate. Even when there is adequate availability of doctors at the state level, there are districts where their availability continues to be a persistent issue, he said.

The problem can be effectively addressed only by starting new medical colleges in backward areas and any restriction based on state level criteria will deprive these deserving districts of much needed tertiary institutions.

‘I would also like to point out the fact that in states like Tamil Nadu which have a higher doctor-population ratio, such high availability of doctors has been achieved predominantly due to investments made by State Governments and the private sector and not by investments made by the Union Government.’

We have been continuously urging that the Union Government needs to contribute more but projects like AIIMS, Madurai are yet to take-off, Stalin said.

Given this situation, a restriction on new institutions will completely eliminate any chance of TN getting new Central investments in health sector.

In a recent judgement, the Supreme Court also held that executive instructions could not impose reasonable restrictions on the fundamental right to establish educational institutions under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India.

Thus, the above NMC notification may also be legally untenable. Considering all the above issues, I request you to instruct the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to keep this notification in abeyance and initiate a consultative process with the State Governments on the steps to address this issue, Stalin told the PM.