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Contrary to their earlier announcement, the government didn’t table the bill for establishment of first medical university in J&K in the just concluded assembly session, giving rise to speculations about the fate of the proposal.

In November last year, when J&K minister for health and medical education Bali Bhagat announced plans to establish the university, the decision was hailed by medical professionals across the state.

“I have constituted a four member committee which has to submit their report within 15 days so that the proposal can be tabled in State Assembly in the forthcoming session,” Bhagat had tweeted.

However, the assembly concluded on Tuesday without the bill being tabled.

As per officials in health and medical education (H&ME) department, the bill could not be brought in as it was yet to be vetted by law department. “There was a confusion regarding some provisions of the bill and that caused the delay,” a senior official said.

However, another H&ME officials said the bill was “deliberately delayed” to avoid controversy regarding selection of the location for setting up the university. “Initially, there was plan for only one medical university for the whole state, to be set up at Jammu and to have a satellite office in Srinagar. However, some modifications were sought by the government following apprehensions that the proposal for a single university could lead to controversy,” the official said.

He said there was also an idea being discussed to set up two medical universities in state, one each in Jammu and Srinagar.

Earlier, medical professionals from Kashmir had raised objections to their exclusion in drafting of the bill. The department had convened a number of meetings and constituted a committee for preparing the bill, without any representation from medical colleges of Kashmir.

The postponement in taking the bill up has raised many eyebrows, with faculty and doctors in Kashmir’s hospitals and medical colleges calling it a “detrimental delay” for medical education in the state. “The demand for medical university has been voiced for a decade almost. Government after government neglects this most dire need in the medical education sector in the state,” a senior faculty member at Government Medical College Srinagar said.

The establishment of medical university has been necessitated in view of the expanding institutions and intake capacities of medical colleges, ayurveda/unani and other colleges, para medical and nursing colleges and other related institutes in J&K. Having all these allied institutions under a single umbrella, as per experts, would help in streamlining education and opportunities and optimize human resources available.

Minister of state for health and medical education Asiea Naqash said the bill was delayed due to “technical reasons”. “It will be taken up in the next Assembly session hopefully,” she said.

Health minister Bali Bhagat did not respond to repeated calls from Greater Kashmir for comments on the issue.