Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, May 25:
A day after Union Labour and Employment Minister Bandaru Dattatreya said that there is no plan to set up Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) medical college in Odisha, the state government today hit out at the Centre pointing out that over half the land earmarked for the proposed project had already been acquired.
“It is unfortunate that the Union Minister said there is no proposal to open a medical college in the state by ESIC in the immediate future. We will protest it,” said state Labour and Employment Minister Prafulla Kumar Mallick.
The minister said that the state government has already acquired around 13 of the 25-acre land allocated for the ESI Medical College and Hospital project. Besides, the government has spent Rs 13 crore for erecting boundary wall and developing the patch of land.
It may be recalled that the Union minister had, yesterday, told media that opening up of a medical college in the state was not feasible in view of the insured persons in the state being below the requisite figure. While a state has to have 4-6 lakh employees covered under ESI for a hospital to be set up, Odisha had just about 3.5 lakh, he had pointed out.
Curiously though, while laying the foundation stone for an ESIC Medical College and Hospital at Jagannathpur near Khandagiri here on Mar 2 last year, the then Union minister for Labour and Employment Oscar Fernandes had said the state had more than 13 lakh employees covered under ESI.
Observers are agahst how the number of ESI-covered employees can fall so drastically in just one year.
Fernandes, it may be noted, had announced the setting up of the 500-bed hospital on 25 acres of land at an estimated cost of Rs 701 crore. The proposed hospital would have 100 MBBS seats in the first phase as per the guidelines of the Medical Council of India (MCI), he had said.
It is noteworthy that Odisha was one of the 13 venues for the ESIC’s medical college project announced in 2008 which was proposed to have been operational from 2013-14.