Amid a “credit war” between the BJD and the BJP over its establishment, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Monday inaugurated the Shri Jagannath Medical College and Hospital (SJMCH) in Puri while Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Mansukh Mandaviya attended the function virtually.
The medical college has been jointly established by the Centre and the state on a 60:40 ratio. The first batch of 100 students started their course from Monday.
“This is a historic day for Puri. I hope that with the efforts of the students and teachers, this institution will serve people of this district. It was a long-standing demand of the people,” Patnaik said.
He said that because of his administration’s policy of 15 per cent reservation for pupils of government schools in the state, many students from the poorest sections have got chance to pursue their dreams.
Mandaviya urged the students to work for the rural population and provide them best possible healthcare. He thanked the Odisha government for the initiative and also urged the chief minister to implement Ayushman Bharat scheme in the state.
The BJP and BJD also indulged in a “credit war” over the establishment of the institution, with the saffron party’s national spokesperson Sambit Patra stating that the chief minister could have made a courtesy call to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to inaugurate the medical college.
“I humbly believe that without getting into the ‘Credit War’ the Honourable CM Odisha should have made a courtesy call to the Honourable PM to inaugurate the Medical College in Puri,” he tweeted.
Patra objected to the BJD government’s “unilateral decision” to inaugurate the medical college developed under a central scheme.
Reacting to Patra’s allegation, BJD vice-president Debi Prasad Mishra said, “Who will visit and what will happen depends on availability and the state government will decide on it. The BJD never believes or indulges in credit politics.” SJMCH is among five medical colleges built in the state under phase 1 of a scheme in which 60 per cent of cost of Rs 945 crore was borne by the Centre. With the inauguration of the medical college in Puri, all the institutions are operational. The other four were started in Baripada, Balasore, Koraput and Bolangir.
Overall, there has been a 55 per cent increase in medical college seats in Odisha from 387 in 2013-14 to 596 in 2020-21. Under phase 2 of the project, two more hospitals will be established in Jajpur and Kalahandi, and central share of Rs 150 crore and Rs 100 crore respectively have been released to the state government, an official said.
Poor SJMCH students such as Radhaballav Behera, son of a sharecropper from Balasore, and Bhatta Hembram, hailing from a family of eight children run by daily wager parents in Mayurbhanj, thanked the state government for the reservation policy.