A long way to go

There is no dearth of liberal announcement by political leaders and those in authority of bringing any and every imaginable facility to the people to keep them in good humour. That is the first act of any politician in a democratic State. Whether those commitments and promises materialize or not is hardly their concern. Strangely, the people too, having short memory, easily forget that promises and commitments made have remained unfulfilled. This is a major drawback in the democratic system that we are pursuing in our State. There is urgent need to rectify this culture of raising the expectations of people and then turning away from pursuing the follow up action.
The case is that of the announcement made by the then Union Health Minister in February 2014 regarding five new Medical Colleges for the State of Jammu and Kashmir. These were to be established in Baramulla and Anantnag in Kashmir Division and Rajouri, Kathua and Doda in Jammu Division. Three years have gone by and not even one of the five Medical Colleges has come up. This shows that the Government has adopted non-serious and leisurely attitude towards this important project. Perhaps ordinary person will not be able to gauge the damage that inordinate delay in taking up the projects is causing to the youth of the State. Each of the new Medical Colleges was expected to enroll 100 students in each session which means that if all the five Medical Colleges had become functional 500 new medical students would have got admission this year. For want a medical institutes, their career as medical professionals has come to an end. This is great national loss. This happened last year and year before last year which means that in all 1500 students of the State were deprived of receiving medical training.
In comparison to this, 22 other Medical Colleges which were announced simultaneously in February 2014 for other States in the country, have since begun to function by opening the classes in make shift campuses. One batch of last year has already passed from these make shift campuses and the second batch has already been enrolled and is on its way to completing the term. Against this our Government is still fumbling with the preliminaries. This is all because of non-seriousness of the authorities who know there is no accountability.  The question is that one the one hand the number of patients is increasing and there is over-crowding in the existing Medical Colleges and hospitals and on the other hand the Government fails to respond to this situation despite the fact that the Centre is forthcoming in the matter of funding. What other reason than inefficiency, lack of interest and lack of accountability can be imagined for this phenomenon in our State.
The State has not moved in any aspect of the project be it the raising of the structure, providing infrastructure, providing machinery and medical equipment, recruiting of medical professionals or paramedical staff or the secretarial staff. Though 3700 posts of doctors and paramedical staff for these Medical Colleges have been sanctioned by the State Cabinet yet till date the concerned authorities have failed to refer these posts to recruitment agencies like Public Service Commission and Services Selection Board despite knowing that recruitment is a very lengthy process in J&K.
When contacted, authorities of the Medical Education and Health Department have the patent answer that the matter is being pursued. But at what stage does the project stand, nobody is going to give the correct answer. The vague answer which our correspondent was given was that the infrastructure in three Medical Colleges is underway and in the rest of two colleges the tendering process has begun. Nothing can be more evasive and irresponsible than statements like these.
Our hospitals in urban as well as rural areas are dismally short of doctors and paramedical staff. Poor village folks cannot afford medical treatment in the capital cities of Srinagar or Jammu leave aside shifting the patients outside the State. They cannot be treated as the second rate citizens for whom only lip service would do. They have right to medical assistance as anybody in the urban area. We entreat the Department of Health and Medical Education to take up this matter seriously and ensure that no more delay is made in raising the sanctioned Medical Colleges.