The Centre on Thursday asked 14 states and union territories to speed up the utilization of central funds and exponentially expedite the completion of new medical colleges attached to existing district or referral hospitals which were approved under the central government sponsored scheme for early commencement of under graduate courses.
Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan highlighted the slow progress of these projects during a review. As many as 157 new medical colleges have been sanctioned under the scheme in three phases since 2014.
The states and UTs that were a part of the review meeting held via video conferencing were Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Jharkhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Odisha and Punjab.
The Union health secretary urged the states to accelerate the completion of these projects to enable commencement of UG courses by 2023-24 academic session.
A statement from the Ministry of health and family welfare read, “It was pointed out that since the scheme will conclude on 31st March 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 the financial year 2022-23.”
“However, due to the slow pace of expenditure of the States/UTs 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. States were further informed that utilization certificates have to be furnished urgently without delay to enable the Centre to release balance funds,” it added.
The Union health secretary highlighted the benefits of newer technologies that enable quick completion and also high levels of conservation of energy during the meeting.
The statement further said, “States were advised 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 seem to be languishing as the construction companies lack requisite experience regarding the building of hospitals and provision of associated specialized services.”
The Indian government launched the Centrally sponsored scheme for the establishment of new medical colleges attached with existing district or referral hospitals in January 2014.
The sharing of funds under the scheme between the Central and state governments has been in a 90:10 ratio for the northeastern and special category states and 60:40 ration for other states.