Cabinet nod to Bill to constitute new commission to replace MCI

Union ministers Prakash Javadekar and Piyush Goyal during a Cabinet briefing, in New Delhi on Wednesday. (PTI)

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the National Medical Commission Bill which provides for the constitution of National Medical Commission that will replace the Medical Council of India as the apex medical education regulator. The Bill allows for just one medical entrance test across the country, a single exit exam (the final MBBS exam) that will work as a licentiate examination, a screening test for foreign medical graduates and entrance test for admission to postgraduate programmes. Under the Bill, the fees and charges of 50 per cent of the total seats in private medical colleges and deemed universities will regulated.

The Bill proposes that NEET and common counselling will be applicable to all medical educational institutions, including AIIMS. The NMC Bill had been introduced in Lok Sabha some years ago when the provision of a standalone exit examination and the proposal for a bridge course that would allow Ayush doctors to practice allopathy had faced opposition. The Bill was sent to the standing committee after which the exit examination was changed to the final MBBS examination and the bridge course provision was dropped altogether.

The proposed National Medical Commission will replace the Medical Council of India, which has been mired in corruption charges for years. The Parliament recently passed a Bill to replace the ordinance for a Board of Governors to supercede the MCI. The NMC will have four autonomous boards for undergraduate education, postgraduate education, medical assessment and rating, and ethics and registration.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has also approved construction a 2880-MW Dibang Multipurpose Project in Arunachal Pradesh at the cost of Rs 1600 crore. Once completed, it will be the country s highest dam at 278 m and also the largest hydroelectric project.

The CCEA also approved construction of a new 81.7 km railway line between Sahjanwa and Dohrighat in Uttar Pradesh at a cost of Rs 1319.75 crore; the doubling of the 142.97 km line New Bongaingaon to Agthori in Assam at a cost of Rs 2042.51 crore; and construction of a third line between Allahabad and Mughalsarai (150 km) for Rs 2649.44 crore. The work on these railway lines will produce 90 to 100 lakh mandays of work, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said during the Cabinet briefing.

The other Bills to get the cabinet s nod on Wednesday include Dam Safety Bill to establish a National Dam Safety Authority as a regulator for 5600 dams in the country. The Bill has provisions for surveillance, inspection and repair of the dams and to set up standardised dam safety procedures across the country. A Companies (Amendment) Bill to replace an ordinance was also approved.

The cabinet also decided that the new National Institutes of Design set up in Kurukshetra, Jorhat, Bhopal and Amaravati will be given status of Institutes of National Importance after amending the NID Act. A Bill to repeal 58 obsolete laws also got the Cabinet s approval.