The protesting medical students of Raja Muthiah Medical College (RMMC), who have been on a relay hunger strike for the past 12 days are demanding a state takeover of the institution. RMMC, a self-financed college, affiliated to Annamalai University, Tamil Nadu, has been witnessing an indefinite strike by the students, since the past 35 days.
The administrative control of the Annamalai university went into the hands of the state government in 2013, due to the existing financial and administrative irregularities. However, the transfer of Annamalai into the hands of the state did not affect the status of, Raja Muthiah Medical College in Chidambaram, which continued to remain a self-financing unit.
As a result, the fees charges of the college/hospital are much higher than that of the other 22 government medical colleges, across Tamil Nadu.
Escalated fee charges have continued to remain an issue with the students, since August 29. Students have since been protesting against the exorbitant fee, despite the administration serving show cause notices to the students.
The fee disparity between RMMC and other colleges of the state become apparent when we compare the fee charges. MBBS students in the RMMC pay Rs. 5.54 lakh per year, whereas government-run colleges charge only Rs. 13,600 per year. For MDMS, while the fee fixed by the government is Rs. 31,325 per year, students at Raja Muthiah pay Rs. 9.8 lakh per year.
The other demand being raised by students is of free treatment for poor patients and improved facilities in both the medical college and hospital.
A medical student from Cuddalore, wondered why the government chose to remain oblivious to the plight of the protesting students. “The main reason students are protesting is to achieve justice for poor patients and students,” he said.
Revealing that Annamalai University has received huge grants from the government, the student added: “For the last fourteen years, more than Rs. 2300 crore in grants has been given to the university, which is greater than the amount of all the grants given to other government colleges in the state.”
He stated that students had also launched a social media campaign to win over public support.
The Rajah Muthiah Medical College website claims to provide free treatment and free diet to all patients, but a post-graduate student preferring to stay anonymous said, the hospital was collecting a payment for every small treatment it gave to the patients. He claimed charges to be high and added that Rs. 500 was collected for blood transfusions, as well, reports Newsclick.
So far, the protesting students have submitted petitions to the Chief Minister, Deputy Chief Minister, Governor, Directorate of Medical Education and the state’s Health Secretary. However, a response is still awaited in all the cases.