New Delhi: The Centre on Thursday urged 14 states to accelerate the utilisation of central funds and exponentially expedite the completion of new medical colleges attached to existing District/ Referral hospitals approved under the Centrally sponsored scheme for early commencement of the Under Graduate courses.
The concerning slow progress of these projects was strongly highlighted by Rajesh Bhushan, Union Health Secretary, as he reviewed the progress with Health Secretaries and Directors (Medical Education) of 14 states and UTs through video conference (VC) on Thursday. 157 new medical Colleges have been sanctioned under this scheme since 2014, in three phases so far.
The states/UTs that participated in the review meeting 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.
Union Health Secretary urged the States to expedite the physical completion of projects to enable commencement of UG courses by academic session 2023-24.
"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," said a statement by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
"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," the statement added.
During the meeting, the Union Health Secretary emphasized benefits of newer technologies that enable quick completion and also high levels of conservation of energy.
"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," said the statement.
The Government of India had launched the Centrally Sponsored Scheme for "Establishment of new medical colleges attached with existing district/referral hospitals" in January 2014, with fund sharing between the Central Government and States/UTs in the ratio of 90:10 for NE/ special category states and 60:40 for other states.