MADURAI: Health Minister Ma Subramanian said it is unlikely the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Madurai will be able to admit students in the current academic year (2021-22). The plan to commence classes this year came up at the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court in June, but the minister said the options suggested by the Union government for conducting classes were not feasible. This comes days ahead of this year’s NEET on September 12. Since last year, admission to MBBS courses at AIIMS and JIPMER has been based on NEET scores.
Speaking to TNIE, Subramanian said, “During the meeting with Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya in New Delhi on September 3, it was conveyed that none of the suggestions put forward regarding temporary arrangements were feasible for the State. TN is for beginning admissions only after construction of the planned buildings at Thoppur. Thus, we insisted on expediting the project. The Ministry acknowledged the practical difficulties in meeting the criteria of the National Medical Commission to admit students at AIIMS this year.”
The Union government had suggested three temporary options to begin classes this year for 150 students of Madurai AIIMS: to host them at JIPMER in Puducherry, at a government medical or arts college in Madurai, or at any private medical college in Madurai. The State did not find these options viable and instead suggested 50 students each be accommodated at the Madurai, Theni, and Sivaganga government medical colleges. However, all these options have now been ruled out.
‘Temporary campus will not reflect well on TN’
Subramanian explained JIPMER was ruled out as it would not be appropriate when the project concerned Tamil Nadu. Starting classes at a private medical college in Madurai, too, is out of question as AIIMS is an autonomous institution of national importance. Similarly, accommodating the students at the Madurai Medical College is not feasible since the college already admits 250 MBBS students every year.
An additional 150 students would burden the college which does not have the required infrastructure. The final option of admitting 50 students each at Madurai, Theni, and Sivaganga government medical colleges was also deemed logistically unfeasible. “It will only lead to inconvenience for the faculty and students,” he added.
“Most students securing admission to AIIMS are from northern States and would have greater expectations of the amenities as provided at other AIIMS. It would not reflect well on TN to accommodate them in a hastily-arranged temporary campus,” Subramanian said. On June 30, commencement of classes from this year was mooted during the hearing of a plea at the Madurai Bench.
The petitioner, a law student, sought a direction to the Union and State governments to take steps to commence the functioning of the institute at a temporary campus, until the construction of the main building was completed. It was then that the Union government told the court it was willing to start outpatient services and MBBS classes at a temporary alternative space identified by the TN government.
Meanwhile, Health Secretary Dr J Radhakrishnan said except for vague correspondences and submissions of affidavits at the court, neither a MoU nor a concrete plan of action was chalked out by the Union Health Ministry to immediately start MBBS admissions at a temporary campus. Hence, after explaining the technical aspects, the State has insisted that the Union government fast-track the construction of AIIMS, he added.
THE ROAD SO FAR
JUNE 30Centre tells HC it is keen to start outpatient services & classes, subject to availability of alternative space & manpower till the building is set up
JULY 7 State says Union govt suggested three places in Puducherry and Madurai to temporarily conduct MBBS classes for 150 students
JULY 26 TN says it sought an AIIMS report on the proposal to take 50 students in 2021- 22. Also says students can be taught at nearby govt colleges
AUG 17 AIIMS executive director says Centre is ready to start classes at any of the colleges chosen by TN, subject to infrastructure requirements. State seeks time.