Pune: Bribery Scandal Raises Concerns Over Management Of PMC’s Bharat Ratna Atal Bihari Vajpayee Medical College

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Pune, 9th August 2023: The dean of Pune Municipal Corporation’s Bharat Ratna Atal Bihari Vajpayee Medical College, Ashish Banginwar, has been caught red-handed in a bribery scandal, prompting widespread questions about the college’s operations. In response, the municipal administration has taken a hands-off approach, asserting that their responsibility solely revolves around providing infrastructure, not overseeing the college’s admission process.

The administrative period has seen 10 officers entrusted with overseeing the college. Despite an investment of nearly Rs 650 crore in establishing this medical institution, alarming revelations have come to light, suggesting that the medical college’s functioning is being left to chance, with claims that admission matters are beyond their purview.

Established under the aegis of the Pune Municipal Medical Education Trust, this institution’s trustees include the mayor as the ex-officio chairman, along with representatives from all political parties, officials, and a total of 20 members. Due to the delay in municipal elections, administrators have been appointed, with Commissioner Vikram Kumar assuming the role of chairman for the trust.

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Following the approval of the medical college in the 2021-22 period, its operations commenced at Sanas School in Mangalwar Peth near PMC run Kamla Nehru Hospital. The current year marks the third year of the college’s operation. Since its inception, Banginwar had been granted significant autonomy to ensure the college’s smooth establishment and successful operation.

However, the recent bribery incident has cast a shadow over the college’s management. Banginwar was apprehended while accepting the first installment of a Rs 10 lakh bribe after allegedly demanding payment for MBBS admission.

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Additional Municipal Commissioner Ravindra Binwade, a trustee of the Pune Municipal Medical Education Trust, remarked, “The admission process of the college has nothing to do with the Pune Municipal Corporation. We only provide infrastructure. All other decisions were taken by the dean; not a single document was given to the Municipal Corporation. Admissions to this place are done as per the rules of the National Medical Council (NMC).”

The Pune Municipal Medical College has an annual capacity of 100 seats. Out of these, 15 percent (15 seats) are designated for the management (institutional) and NRI quotas. Admission fees through the management quota are three times higher, while the NRI quota commands a fee five times greater than the regular rate. The allocation of these seats has drawn scrutiny due to a perceived lack of transparency.

In contrast, the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Medical College has decided to allocate all seats solely based on merit, abolishing the management quota. The retention of the quota system by the Pune Municipal Corporation has triggered accusations of facilitating corruption, leading Dr. Abhijit More of the Aam Aadmi Party to take action.

Former corporator Pallavi Javale has alleged that in the year 2021-22, 22 seats were filled through the management quota, exceeding the designated 15 percent. This discrepancy has raised concerns, prompting inquiries.

Despite seeking clarification from Additional Commissioner Binawade, Javale found the response unsatisfactory. Consequently, calls for a comprehensive investigation into the matter have gained momentum.

The Pune Municipal Medical Education Trust, intended to be overseen by the mayor and party leaders, is currently managed by appointed officers. These officers include the Municipal Commissioner, Additional Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner, General Administration Department officials, Health Chief Superintendent, Medical College administrators, Chief Accountant, City Engineer, Deputy Commissioner, Property and Management, Legal Adviser, Medical Superintendent, and College representatives.


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