Odisha minister terms Dattatreya’s statement as ‘unfortunate’

Bhubaneswar: Dubbing Union Labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya’s statement on the proposed medical college of ESIC in Odisha as “unfortunate”, State govenrment today said it would strongly protest any move to drop the project.

“This is unfortunate that the Union minister says there is no proposal to open a medical college in the state by ESIC in immediate future. We will protest it,” said Odisha’s Labour and Employment minister Prafulla Kumar Mallick.

Stating that the State govenrment would certainly protest the centre’s stand in regard to the ESIC’s proposed medical college here, Mallick said if required the state might hit the streets on this issue.

Dattatreya yesterday had told the reporters that it may not be possible to set up medical college in immediate future as the number of insured persons in the State was below the requisite figure. He, however, announced upgradation of the existing ESI hospital in the state capital.

Mallick, however, said the State was one of the 13 venues for the ESIC’s medical college project in 2008. The then Union Minister for Labor and Employment Oscar Fernandes on March 2, 2014 had laid the foundation stone for an ESIC’s Medical College and Hospital here.

The State government accordingly had identified 25 acres for the purpose near Jagannathpur, on the outskirts of the state capital City. The Medical College was proposed to have been operational from 2013-14.

However, the project was delayed due to a dispute over its location. While one section demanded to locate the ESIC medical college at Rourkela, others wanted to set it up in Bhubaneswar. Accordingly, a team of central govenrment headed by then Union Secretary, Labour, had visited both the places in 2013 and selected Bhubaneswar as the venue for the proposed ESIC medical college.

At least Rs 12.5 crore had been spent to erect a boundary wall to protect the 25 acres of land from any encroachment. Considering the infrastructure availability, Labour ministry had favoured Bhubaneswar for ESIC Medical College, an official said.