Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin
| Photo Credit: S.R. Raghunathan

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin on Wednesday, October 4, 2023 requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to instruct the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, to keep in abeyance, a notification issued by the National Medical Commission (NMC), which has imposed certain restrictions on the opening of new medical colleges.

In a letter sent to the Prime Minister, Mr. Stalin said that imposing the condition of 100 MBBS seats per 10 lakh population at the State level was “a direct encroachment on the rights of all State governments and penalisation of States who have invested more in their public health infrastructure over the years”.

Mr. Stalin argued that even when there was adequate availability of doctors at the State level, there were districts where the availability continued to be a persistent issue. He said this problem could be addressed only by opening of new medical colleges in such backward areas. “Any restriction on new medical colleges based on State level criteria will deprive these deserving districts of much needed tertiary institutions,” he said.

No funds from Union government

Mr. Stalin said Tamil Nadu had been able to achieve a higher doctor-population ration due to investments made by the State government and private sector, and not the Union government. He said the State was continuously urging the Union government to contribute more, but projects like the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Madurai were yet to take off. In such a situation, he said imposing restrictions on new medical colleges would deprive Tamil Nadu from getting any investments in the healthcare sector by the Union government in the future.

The CM also pointed out that progressive States such as Tamil Nadu had been strengthening their tertiary healthcare network for decades, which had led to the ample availability of doctors and nurses and better performance on various health indicators. He said Chennai had emerged as the healthcare capital of India and medical professionals from the State, both in public and private sectors, were serving not only the people of Tamil Nadu but other States and countries as well. “This has generated huge demand for quality health services and new institutions are absolutely necessary for us to cater to it in the future,” he said.

Legally untenable

Citing a recent judgement of the Supreme Court, he said the apex court had held that executive instructions could not impose reasonable restrictions on the fundamental right [of States] to establish educational institutions. He said the NMC’s notification may therefore be legally untenable. Requesting Mr. Modi to issue instructions to place the notification in abeyance, he said a consultative process could be initiated with State governments, regarding steps to address this issue.

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