The Annual Report 2012-13 (Page 22, Item 48) of the ESI Corporation shows that for the purpose of Construction of Medical College, Dental College and Nursing College at Gulbarga, Karnataka, a sum of Rs. 929.05 crores had been allocated, excluding cost of equipments and escalation cost. But, as on date, it is understood from reliable sources that the total expenditure so far incurred is about Rs. 1600 crores. Even if the figure is 929.05 crores as reported in the Annual Report as on 31.03.2013, the nature of such extravagant expenditure would become evident from the observation of the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, who has, in his letter dated 11.03.2015, sent to the Hon’ble Prime Minister regarding the infrastructure created in Chennai and Coimbatore, stated very clearly as follows: “the cost at which these Medical College projects have beenundertaken is very high, as establishment of a Government Medical College and hospital by the State Government works out to only around Rs. 200 crores. Even for the Medical Colleges funded through Government of India, the Project cost has been indicated as Rs. 189 crores only”. The number of insured persons there at Gulbarga is shown to be 40700 (Page 47 AR 2012-13 as on 31.03.2013). But, the effective strength is reported to be about 12900 only. The monthly recurring expenditure at present is also reported to be around Rs. 3 crores. Yet, the building remains unutilised till date and the Government Hospital in Gulbarga is utilised as the venue for the medical and other colleges.
4,00,000 Vs 40,000
The CAG has reported that while opening 500 bed hospital at Gulbarga, the norms for existence of minimum number of insured persons were not followed and the locations were incorrectly selected. It said, “As per ESIC norms, minimum 400000 IPs are required for establishing a 500 bed hospital. Audit observed that the number of IPs in Gulbarga (Karnataka) and Mandi (Himachal Pradesh) were only 40700 and 207100 respectively (as on 31 March 2013). Thus, decision to establish hospitals at these two places was imprudent as these did not fulfill minimum required norms. ESIC stated (May 2014) that a sub-committee of the Corporation was currently examining the norms for setting up of Medical Colleges. (Para 5.1.2). Para 22.214.171.124 of the CAG Report says: “The ESIC entered into MOU with the State Government of Karnataka on 22 September 2012 to tie up its medical college with the Government District Hospital, Gulbarga for functioning as a teaching hospital to fulfil the MCI norms. ESIC also agreed to incur the expenditure on the District Hospital to make it MCI compliant. However, approval for the expenditure on district hospital, Gulbarga to make it MCI compliant was not taken from the Ministry. Thus, the ESIC incurred irregular expenditure of Rs. 22.72 lakh per month (recurring since January 2013) on staff and equipment and Rs. 18.11 lakh (one time) for renovation etc., in the district hospital, Gulbarga which is open for general public and not specifically for the IPs”.
Later realisation and regret
The Corporation later, after spending so much money of the insured persons, realised in May 2014, that “Setting up and running of Medical Colleges is a cost intensive proposition in respect of capital cost, recurring cost, loss of revenue, etc.,”. (Para 6.g. of the Summary Record of the 3rd meeting of the ESIC Sub-Committee on Medical Services and Medical Education held on 13.05.2014). In the month of July2014, the Ministry of Labour informed the Prime Minister that the ESIC did “not have the core competency to run medical colleges” and that it would entrust the medical colleges to the respective state governments. In the month of December 2014, the ESI Corporation, the Apex Body that runs the organisation, took the decision to “exit the medical education entirely”.
Order dated 05.01.2015
A circular was issued on 05.01.2015 by the Director General advising Deans of the ESIC medical institutions that —
- “ESIC should exit the field of medical education entirely as it is not the core function of the ESIC and the objective of Section 59-B of the Act is unlikely to be met.
- Hand over on-going medical colleges and other Medical Education Institutions having separate infrastructure to State Governments willing for such transfer.
- ESIC may neither undertake further admissions in the medical colleges and other Medical Education Institutions (PG, Nursing, Para-medical & Dental, including Dental College, Rohini) nor start new medical colleges. All ongoing Medical Education programs may continue till the admitted students pass out or (they) are adjusted as per provisions of the Essentiality Certificate issued by the State Government, whichever is earlier.”
Order dated 18.03.2015
However, there was a ‘U’ turn on 18.03.2015 and it had been decided by some authorities to admit students for the next batch: The circular said:
- “Admissions to ongoing MBBS / BDS / PG Courses at ESIC Medical Education Institutions shall be continued.
- The seat matrix for admissions to ongoing MBBS / BDS / PG Courses for 2015-16 session may accordingly be communicated to the relevant authorities for the All India Quota (AIQ) and State Quota (SQ), as applicable to your Institutions promptly.”
The issue is that the funds of the insured persons are going to be wasted more and more and the future of the students who join the next batch would also become a question mark. Already, the PG students who passed out in the year 2014 could not register themselves, as their courses are stated to be ‘not-recognised’. Another batch of students, those who pass in 2015 would be joining them now. It is said that the later order dated 18.03.2015 has been issued in the interest of students. How can the interest of existing students be served by bringing in new students? What about the interest of the insured persons whose money has been squandered away so long and will continue to be squandered away by admitting new batches and continuing with medical education?
photo courtesy: nammagulbarga.com and ESIC websites. For more: June 29, 2009: http://www.deccanherald.com/content/10627/two-central-medical-colleges-gulbarga.html “Mr. Kharge has emphatically stated that he would pump in Rs 100 cr during the current year itself for the ambitious venture.” That was in the year 2009-10 while the ESI Act got amended to enable setting up medical colleges only in the next year 2010-11. September 19, 2012: http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-karnataka/gulbarga-to-get-esic-medical-college/article3913261.ece August 1, 2014: http://indianexpress.com/article/business/business-others/govt-to-pull-the-plug-off-esic-medical-college-plan/ August 23, 2014: http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-karnataka/esic-medical-colleges-to-be-transferred-to-government/article6343917.ece