Only 42% seats unreserved in J&K Medical Colleges
With J&K issuing a fresh seat matrix, aspirants of Open Merit seats here are up in arms alleging that the Government has curtailed the unreserved seat pool to bolster Economically Weak Section seats.
J&K Board of Professional Entrance Examinations (J&K BOPEE) has issued a fresh matrix of MBBS seats in medical colleges of the UT, the new distribution meant to ensure 10 percent of total seats for the EWS category. The rearrangement, some aspirants allege, robs Open Merit candidates of at least 30 seats. The reworked seat matrix issued on 21 February, nullifies the seat matrix that the Board issued on 01 February. In the earlier seat matrix, the EWS candidates had been allocated only 5 percent of the seats that were due to the category, after the 103rd amendment to the Constitution. In J&K, 85 seats under EWS were approved by the National Medical Council in 2019. However, only 53 of these seats were reserved for EWS in the beginning February seat matrix. As per the new Act, 10 percent of the total seats in a state or union territory are to be reserved for EWS.
While the earlier seat matrix had 466 seats under Open Merit, distributed across various medical colleges of the UT, the new seat matrix has 423 seats under OM. Apart from skimming the seats of OM, the fresh distribution has also reduced seats in three medical colleges preferred by most aspirants due to their infrastructure and faculty strength. In GMC Jammu and Srinagar both, the seat strength under OM has been reduced from 78 to 65. In SKIMS MC, the strength has dropped from 52 to 41.
In 2019, when EWS was implemented in J&K, GoI allocated seats in ‘established’ medical colleges – GMC Srinagar, GMC Jammu and SKIMS Medical College. Subsequently, BOPEE notification No 108 dated 21 October 2019 distributed the seats between EWS (42) and the remaining 43 between various reserved categories (SC, STGB, STL, STK, STO, OSC, RBA, ALC, CDP, SP, JKPM). After protests and demands by the EWS candidates, the BOPEE on Monday issued a fresh seat matrix, “to respect the constitutional amendments” and ensure that EWS aspirants are able to stake claims at 96 seats now, in the already identified medical colleges. The move was welcomed by EWS aspirants, but has come as a shock for aspirants who do not feature under any reserved category – the Open Merit.
A parent of an aspirant while speaking to Greater Kashmir said that when in 2019, the EWS seats were distributed between categories, how the seats now can be scooped out of OM. “Just have a look at the previous notifications of 2019. The EWS seats were doled out to categories and now OM has to pay for that,” he lamented.
Many aspirants who hoped to secure a seat under OM in one of these medical colleges have alleged that the Government has curtailed the availability of seats under unreserved categories beyond the limit of 54 percent and left them with just 42 percent seats. “We left our admission elsewhere after we saw the seat matrix of BOPEE, now we have a reduced capacity rendering us eligible to apply nowhere,” an aspirant said. Another one alleged that 426 seats that the Government had kept under OM was “an injustice of a fresh kind”.
Additional Chief Secretary to J&K Government, Health and Medical Education, Vivek Bhardwaj, who also holds the charge of Chairman BOPEE said that EWS was a category under category. “EWS is not SC, not ST, not RBA. Its seats will come under OM only,” he said. Bhardwaj said that the fresh seat matrix had been prepared keeping the Constitutional provisions and other SROs in view. He said that the EWS category was meant to help aspirants who are not under other categories. “Additional seats had been allocated to these medical colleges for incorporating EWS,” he said.