TB Hospital sold for 1 rupee – Private players jump into medical education in West Bengal

December 14, 2008

By Bishan Dutta. Translated by Suvarup Saha, from Shramikshakti Newsletter, November 2008.

Privately owned educational institutions have been on a roll from the days of the Rajiv Gandhi’s new economic policies. Here, in West Bengal, the left-front government joined the bandwagon a little late but has been quick to champion its cause with immense dedication – testified by the mushrooming of more than 150 professional degree colleges in last few years. The newest in the list is the KPC Medical College located at Jadavpur, in the south of Kolkata.

Only a few days ago, this was what was well-known as the K.S.Roy Tuberculosis Hospital, one of the oldest of its kind in the whole Asia. The 200 bighas of land and almost the entire infrastructure of the hospital was handed over to one NRI businessman Kali Choudhury at a price of INR 1 for setting up of a privately run medical college. But before that, the entire facility of the hospital was systematically rendered useless and the admission procedure was made as complicated as ever. Thus, functioning of the hospital was crippled. Alongside this, there was a steady campaign claiming that TB is not as deadly now as it used to be, and that percentage of TB patients is declining to indicate that there was o need to have such a super-specialty hospital. But it’s not hard to detect the lie once you look at the 2008 WHO report where India tops the list of TB affected countries with the highest number of victims. In fact, one in every five TB affected persons in the world is an Indian. NTO reports that the number of multi-drug resistant Tuberculosis cases is ominously increasing and might actually complement the growth of AIDS infected cases in India. Clearly, only DOTS clinics are not enough to fight this menace. And placed in this scenario there’s little reason that one can find in the dismantling of a fully grown TB combative infrastructure.

Even if one reconciles with the fact that there is no need for an entire hospital to treat TB patients, how can one come to terms with the fact that a public utility space built on public money is being gifted to private promoters to rake in the moolah in the name of producing degree doctors? Is there a surplus of public health care facility in Kolkata and West Bengal? Why can’t the TB hospital be modified and changed into a general government hospital? These are obvious questions which the government of the day sadly refuses to answer. Rather, the government is more interested in setting up a MBBS degree sales counter in the name of a private medical college, where all the regulations of the medical education in the country can be flouted with ready connivance of the state apparatus. It is difficult to understand how the proposed medical college ‘managed’ no objections when it hardly meets the standards set by the MCI. Even without setting up the ‘Fee determination Committee’ and the ‘Admission Procedure Control Committee’ (and thus blatantly ignoring the Supreme Court directive), the government gave go ahead to the college promoters to start the admission procedure. Guardians of the prospective students were made to sign declarations of agreeing to any fee structure that the authority deems fit. When a PIL was filed in the Kolkata High Court in this regard, an ad hoc price of 19.5 lakh for the 77 management quota seats and 6.5 lakhs for each of the 50 merit list seats was declared. Interestingly, where there have been hordes of litigations in the courts where different state governments challenge the private players in the determination of the fee structure, West Bengal government stands firm in solidarity with its private partner in the current PIL. Also, stories of gross manipulation of even the merit list, bypassing of the State level Engineering and Medical College entrance examinations (WBJEE) by holding separate tests are doing rounds.

This is not something isolated. A similar proposal of converting the Sagar Dutta Hospital in Kamarhati to a private medical college promoted by the Apollo group and several such other schemes are in the pipeline. The peoples’ government is so deeply involved in opening up of the medical education and healthcare market that it can hardly see the damage it is inflicting on the already crumbling tertiary health care infrastructure. The people here have a task cut out to resist such subversion of public access to healthcare.

3 Comments »

3 Responses to “TB Hospital sold for 1 rupee – Private players jump into medical education in West Bengal”

  1. Engineering College Online Says:
    May 11th, 2009 at 18:23

    Great article with a lot of stuff.

  2. Priya Mukherjee Says:
    May 27th, 2010 at 13:22

    I am a software professional working in Bangalore…I had studied in kolkata but due to lack of private companies there i had to leave my homeland for a job.Like me lakhs of bengalis had to leave their homeland to places like Bangalore,Mumbai , Hyderabad or Gurgaon or Pune…..Have our so called intellectuals ever thought why our state has lagged behind when other states have developed at a great pace…West Bengal the most prosperous state in the 70s has been reduced to a state symbolizing poverty and stagnation…..Its because then those ‘intellectuals’ supported jyoti basu and his good for nothing party. Again the same mistake is being comitted…..Dark forces like maoists are being supported by political parties and the ‘intellectuals’…..history is being repeated…….WAKE UP before it is too late…..Maoists have no other motive but to reach the centre like they did in Nepal…….Its time BENGALIS rise up and oppose these dark forces rather than opposing development so that our state surpasses other states like maharasthra or gujarat in prosperity…..The writers of this article should count the number of private colleges in the southern states of india…Come out of your shell…..allow development in the much stagnated bengal…love your homeland first….allow it to prosper so that future generations dont curse you later….

  3. Riju das. Says:
    May 21st, 2012 at 15:16

    Its not a private engineering but medical the said college doesnt have enough patient how doctors will be produced .19.5 lakh rupees spent students will never turn up to govt jobs.

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