Staff Reporter

Begin an indefinite fast; demand adequate number of teaching staff

TIRUCHI: Students of Government College of Physiotherapy commenced an indefinite fast on Tuesday, assailing the neglect of the institution by Health Department.

Almost all the 120 students are taking part in the fast, demanding appointment of a permanent Principal with postgraduate qualification in physiotherapy and adequate number of teaching staff, and speedy announcement of the formation of an exclusive council for physiotherapy on the lines of medical, dental and nursing councils.

According to the students, there were only two faculty members in the college as against the requirement of 18 as per university norms. They expressed their disgust over the ad hoc arrangement of conducting classes at the K.A.P. Viswanatham Government Medical College and Annal Gandhi Memorial Government Medical College Hospital. The Government, while permitting a plethora of private institutions to offer Master of Physiotherapy programme, did not evince interest in upgrading its (only) two institutions in Tiruchi and Chennai with the PG programme, they said.

Displaying an order from the Director of Medical Education for appointment of a permanent principal later in the day, hospital authorities and senior police officials persuaded the students to withdraw their demonstration, with a warning that the hostel would be closed and the students forcibly hospitalised if they did not relent. However, most of the students were insistent on continuing the fast.

Letter to CM

In a letter addressed to the Chief Minister, the students conveyed their dismay over the Health Department’s lack of attention to the basic needs in the institution. In the wake of a token fast on December 18, 2008, the Director of Medical Education and Health Department Secretary had provided an assurance four days later that their demands will be given due consideration. Since there was no action, the student delegation had met the officials again on January 23, 2009, but to no avail. Hence the indefinite fast until the demands are fulfilled, the letter stated.

The instruction from the Principal Secretary to Government, Health and Family Welfare Department on December 22, 2008, included modification of ad hoc rules for posting principals and appointing various faculties in the meantime; creating posts for Tiruchi Physiotherapy College as per university norms; deputing psychologists and social workers to Tiruchi, and a direction to the Director of Medical and Rural Health Services to appoint Chief Physiotherapists and Physiotherapists Grade I and II in the two colleges within a month.