The Centre has urged Meghalaya and 13 other states and union territories to speed up utilisation of central funds and expedite completion of new medical colleges approved under Centrally Sponsored Scheme for early commencement of under-graduate courses.
The slow progress of these new medical colleges was strongly highlighted by Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan as he reviewed the progress with Health Secretaries and Directors (Medical Education) of 14 states and union territories through video conference today.
157 new medical colleges have been sanctioned under this scheme since 2014, in three phases so far.
Besides Meghalaya, the other states and union territories that participated in the review meeting were Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Mizoram, Nagaland, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Punjab and the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
The Union Health Secretary urged the states to expedite the physical completion of the medical colleges to enable commencement of under-graduate courses by the academic session 2023-24.
It was pointed out that since the scheme will conclude on March 31, 2024, hence all projects need to be completed in time. It was informed that a sum of Rs 7,500 crores have been allotted for the schemes of Human Resources for Health (HRH) and Medical Education (ME) for financial year 2022-23.
However, due to the slow pace of expenditure of the states and union territories and since there has been no requisition for release of funds from the states, further release of funds by the Centre to states cannot take place.
The states were further informed that utilisation certificates have to be furnished urgently without delay to enable the Centre to release the balance funds. The states were also strongly advised to regularly review the progress and urgently update the Union Health Ministry portal for monitoring the physical and financial progress.
Bhushan emphasised the benefits of newer technologies that enable quick completion and also to explore and use locally relevant and green technology options, and steel composite structures for the projects which are yet to start.
It was also pointed out that some of the projects are languishing as the construction companies lack requisite experience regarding building of hospitals and provision of associated specialised services. The states were also advised to ensure that the selected contractors have adequate expertise and experience, and the sub-contracting also follows these requirements.
It may be mentioned that the Government of India had launched the Centrally Sponsored Scheme for “Establishment of new medical colleges attached with existing district/referral hospitals” in January, 2014, with fund sharing between the Central government and states in the ratio of 90:10 for North East and special category states, and 60:40 for other states.
This Centrally Sponsored Scheme is being implemented in three phases – Phase-I (2014), Phase-II (2018) and Phase-III (2019).