The Department of Surgical Gastroenterology at the Madras Medical College has been declared a centre of excellence for upper gastrointestinal surgery, Health Minister M.R.K. Panneerselvam said on Sunday.

Addressing Independence Day celebrations hosted by the department, Mr. Paneerselvam said a Government Order to this effect was being issued on Monday.

Work on the Rs.75-crore new building complex for the MMC on the Old Central Jail premises is on schedule, the Minister said. Tenders for Rs.50 crore civil works had been floated for the project.

As part of the government's drive to start more medical colleges in the State, three more colleges were expected to be opened next year at Sivaganga, Perambalur and Tiruvarur, Mr. Paneerselvam said. On August 20, Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi would launch the Rs.140-crore super speciality hospital in Salem.

Expressing displeasure at the work undertaken by the contractor for maintaining cleanliness at the MMC, the Minister warned of stringent action, including scrapping of contract, if it was not executed properly.

He distributed prizes to winners of a poetry and essay competition on the theme ‘Freedom from disease,' organised by the Surgical Gastroenterology Department.

MMC Dean J. Mohanasundaram presented excerpts from the poetry entries at the contest.

A. Sundaram, MMC vice principal, and C. Veni, Medical Superintendent, General Hospital spoke.

S.M. Chandramohan, Head, Department of Surgical Gastroenterology, said the department was presenting nine research papers at an international congress slated to be held in Japan next month.

Silamboli Chellappan, scholar, who selected the five best poetry entries from 118 submissions, was felicitated.

Earlier, Mr. Panneerselvam opened a drinking water facility sponsored and maintained by the Shri Jain Ratna Swadhyaya Trust and the Jain Acharya 1008 Shri Hasti Janma Shatabdi Samiti.

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