Potential and Prospects for a Medical College in Rayagada: Despite violation of assurances by state denizens hopeful

Report by Badal Tah; Rayagada, November 4: The Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) of the Government of India gave its nod to set up a medical college in Rayagada district on PPP mode, a move that would have given a major boost to healthcare in Odisha. According to the proposal, the medical college was supposed to have have 100 seats each along with 500-bedded hospital. The Empowered Committee of the DEA sanctioned the Viability Gap Funding. Accordingly, during year 2014 the then Health Minister of Govt of Odisha announced in the state assembly a Medical College for Rayagada through PPP mode keeping in view the health needs of Rayagada and the adjacent districts. He also announced that 20-25 acres of land was identified for the purpose. A tender of Rs.327.40 crores was floated. As the process did not materialize, members of Rayagada Nagarika Mancha(RNM) had been demanding a medical college thorough representation to CM, Health Minister, Law Minister, Health Secretary, Revenue Secretary, Collector , etc. The members of RNM even sought to peaceful strike where the administration assured to look into the demands of RNM.

“After a lapse of five years CM Naveen Pattanaik did not fulfill the declaration made during 2014 for Rayagada. Instead, he announced a Medical College at Kandhamal. Mere increase of hospital beds and a rest shed at District Headquarters Hospitals(DHH) at Rayagada for attendants of the patients were announced. This is just a lolly pop for inhabitants of Rayagada”, said Sri Kedar Panda, a senior advocate of Rayagada Bar Association.

Recently the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved setting up of 75 government medical colleges attached to existing district or referral hospitals under phase III of a centrally-sponsored scheme. According to a government statement, the new medical colleges would be set up in under-served areas having no medical colleges and attached to district hospitals having at least 200 beds. Preference will be given to aspirational districts. As Rayagada comes under aspirational districts in Odisha identified by Niti Aayog, new hopes have cropped up and we are hopeful, said Dr.Selvaraju, Ex-Principal, Rayagada College and presently member of National Lok Adalat.

According to information received from Tahasildar, Rayagada, land has been identified for the medical college near Pitamahal. Collector Sri Pramod Kumar Behera said that he had already written to Govt about the local demand for a medical college.”The Govt is supposed to retrieve 507 acres of land from the defunct Jeypore Sugar Company(JSCo). As the matter is in high court, the state must properly represent through its advocate general to appear and plead; but there seems to have a nexus. As for the college hardly 20 acres of land is required, the district administration should acquire this amount of land from JSCo within Rayagada periphery rather than going to Pitamahal”, said Sri Venkat Rao Senapati, Advisor of JSCo Ex-employees’ Union.

“Rayagada is a befitting place strategically for establishment of a medical college. It is now declared as a Railway Division & connected to all the metro cities of India by trains. It is surrounded by prominent corporate houses like Aditya Birla group of companies, JK Papers, IMFA, Vedanta, L&T, their ancillaries, etc. It has five nursing colleges including one of the Govt. It has four engineering colleges, a pharmacy college, an agriculture college, five diploma engg schools apart from Rayagada Autonomous college having a potential of being a university and several degree colleges. It has enough plain land to cater the need of the Medical College”, told Sri Sunil Kar, Convenor of City Development Committee, Rayagada.

Recently Sri Saptagiri Ulaka, MP, Koraput met Dr Harsh Vardhan, Cabinet Minister, Health & Family Welfare, GOI & requested him in written to approve a new Medical College at Rayagada to be attached with DHH under Phase-III of ongoing Centrally sponsored scheme. He has also tweeted CM Naveen Pattanaik to expeditiously send DPR to GOI. If not done at the earliest, his haunch is: Odisha may lose out in this race as other states have already submitted DPRs to get a place in list of 75 approved Medical Colleges. According to Ulaka, Rayagada surely qualifies one Medical College as has been long standing demand from the people. Unless DPR is sent from the state Govt, Central Government will not be able to take any action on the same. He has appealed Naveen Patnaik to act with immediate effect and expressed his concern of losing if not timely acted upon. Ulaka’s representation has been highly applauded by denizens of Rayagada.

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