In what could be a shot in the arm for the health sector, the Centre has done away with the mandatory requirement of 10 acres of land to establish a medical college in metropolitan areas.
While announcing the relaxation, the ministry of health and family welfare has said a unitary piece of land will be new criterion and there would be no restrictions as regards the size of the plot.
In the latest public notice, the ministry has said it has amended the Establishment of Medical College Regulations, 1999 of the Medical Council of India (MCI) to facilitate the land requirement relaxation.
The notice, issued on August 4, states that the medical college should have a total built-up area required for adequate infrastructure, including the college, affiliated teaching hospital, residential quarters and other infrastructure required as per the applicable Minimum Standard Requirement Regulations. The built-up area should be in conformity with the requirement of local urban laws and the building plan should have the approval of the competent authority .
The Centre's move to relax the land requirement norms has been welcomed by different stakeholders.
Deelip Mhaisekar, vicechancellor of the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences (MUHS), Nashik, who is also a member of the MCI, said the basic aim behind relaxing the rules was the increasing dearth of land in metropolitan areas.Vertical expansion on an available piece of land while paying heed to FSI limits would now facilitate the setting up of a medical college, he said.
The Centre has already announced its plan to increase both undergraduate and postgraduate seats in medical education in the country . A possible increase in medical colleges would ensure that more medical seats were available, Mhaisekar said. Union health minister J P Nadda had last year hinted at relaxing norms related to land requirement for establishing medical college in metros.
Incidentally, while the minister had proposed that the promoter must own 60,000 sq m of floor space to house the college, hospital and other facilities, no such specific size of land is mentioned in the latest public notice.
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) said the Centre's move would increase the number of doctors in the country in the long run.
“Getting a 10-acre piece of land in several metropolitan areas is not feasible considering non-availability and skyrocketing prices.The relaxation offered by the ministry should have come long back.Our country has a poor doctor-patient ratio, which should improve if more colleges come up,“ said R Rohiwal, president of the Aurangabad chapter of the IMA.
Sharad Advant of advocacy group Marathwada Janata Vikas Parishad said the relaxation in the norms would be a boon for medical aspirants. “There is huge demand-supply gap when it comes to admission to medical courses. We hope that both state-run and private medical colleges flourish by virtue of the latest decision.However, it should not happen that only private players benefit,“ he said. An official e-mail sent to the MCI top brass seeking their views on the implications of the relaxation in norms remained unanswered till Wednesday evening.