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According to the initial planning, these railway lands and installations will be allotted to the private organisations for 40 to 50 years.

Sources from the Directorate General of Health Services said all together there are 106 public and private medical colleges. Among them 37 are public and 69 are private. The number of the students in these hospitals is a bit more than 52,000. The government has a decision in principle to build a medical college hospital in each of the districts. In this reality, it is difficult to understand the reason for giving away railway lands in the name of five medical colleges to private organisations. At least 25,000 teachers are needed for the existing medical colleges alone. The current number of teachers in the medical colleges is less than 10,000.

A railway official said what will the railways do if there is a loss in the contract or if the investors want to extend the contract or make a permanent allotment of the land by showing a loss?

Regarding this, railways minister Nurul Islam said that the main target of the project is to make the proper use of the unused land. This will also increase the revenue of the railways.

When asked about the necessity of these medical colleges, the minister said Bangladesh is a highly populated country. It will be helpful for the people if there are more quality hospitals, he added.

Kamalapur: The Kamlapur railway hospital was established in 1986. It is situated between the Kamalapur station and Shahjahanpur junction. It is adjacent to the Motijheel Ideal School and College. The total area of the hospital covers 4.30 acres of land. There are also several trees in the hospital premises.

The project was undertaken in 2013 to take the hospital under the PPP. A discussion is going on with the Korean government for a government to government funding.

According to the project proposal, a 50 bed medical college and a nursing institute will be constructed at Kamalapur and the existing hospital will be upgraded to a 250-bed hospital. The estimated cost of this project is Tk 6 billion (600 crore).

The government Mugda Medical College and hospital is located within two kilometers of the railway hospital. There are 75 seats in this medical college inaugurated in 2015. There is also a 500-bed hospital. The police hospital is located at nearby Rajarbagh. Apart from this, there are many private hospitals in this area too.

Chattogram: Chattogram hospital is on the top of hospital projects. A deal was signed with the United Enterprise and Company in March, last year for the development of the hospital. The United Hospital in Dhaka is owned by the United Group. According to the deal, the existing hospital will be upgraded to a 500-bed hospital and a 50-seat medical college and a 50-seat nursing institute will be constructed near it.

The railway sources said a 6-acre land has been given to the United Group including the existing railway hospital and its adjacent spaces. A 50-year contract is signed with them. Of this, 12 years will be needed to finish the construction alone. The United Group will design, manage and finance the construction of the establishment.

According to the financial deal, the PPP authority is to be paid Tk 35 million (3.5 crore) as the private partner project development fee. The railways have been given a lump sum of Tk 50 million (5 crore). Three years after signing the contract the company will pay the railways Tk 7.5 million (7500,000) and Tk 7.5 million (7500,000) in the fourth year as the first annual fee. The company will pay Tk 150 million (1.5 crore) in each of the fifth and sixth year as the contract fee.

After this, the fee will increase at a rate of 10 per cent once in three years until the contract finishes. There are four private and public medical colleges in Chattogram. Apart from this, there are several large private hospitals in the city. There are many clinics too. However, the sources associated with the project say that the United Group has experience in hospital management. As a result, the project is more likely to be profitable.

Syedpur: In 2018, a medical college hospital was established in the Sadar upazila in Nilphamari. Although the academic activities have started, there is no permanent campus there yet. The railways has undertaken a project to establish a large medical college and hospital around the existing railway hospital in Syedpur upazila. There has not been much progress despite the project being undertaken in 2013.

According to the project documents, the hospital covers a land of 25.5 acres including its establishments and empty spaces. The existing hospital will be upgraded to a 250-bed hospital and a 50-seat medical college will be established on this land. Currently, the hospital consists of 82 beds. The hospital has all the medical facilities including the operation theater, X-ray room, surgery ward, general ward, women's ward and cabin facilities.

The railway sources questioned how justified it is to give 25.50 acres of railway land for a medical college and hospital? In the western region of the country, there are six hospitals of railways in Rajshahi, Syedpur of Nilphamari, Lalmonirhat, Parbatipur of Dinajpur and Pakshi of Pabna.

Pakshi: Pakshi is a union of the Ishwardi upazila in Pabna district. Hardinge Bridge and the regional office of the railways are located here. Ishwardi is also known for the Ruppur Nuclear Power Plant now-a-days.

Pakshi has huge railway land, infrastructure and establishments. There is also a 70-bed railway hospital. The railway authorities have taken up a project to set up a large medical college and hospital there too. According to project documents, some 25 acres of land have been allotted for the project of upgrading the existing hospital to a 250-bed hospital and establishing a 50-seat medical college. The expenditure of implementation of this project has been estimated at Tk 6 billion (600 crore). Railway authorities are expecting for South Korean investment here.

There is a public medical college in Pabna. Among the surrounding districts, there are government medical colleges in Rajshahi, Sirajganj, Bogura, Naogaon and Kushtia. There is a large private medical college and hospital in Sirajganj.

Khulna: The railway authorities want to set up a new medical college and a 250-bed hospital in Khulna. The cost for this has been estimated at Tk 8 billion (800 crore) and 15.52 acres of land has been allotted for this project.

There is a public medical college and hospital in Khulna. In 2008, it was upgraded from 250 to 500 beds. But the required manpower and equipment could not be deployed there yet. There are public medical colleges in Satkhira, Jashore and Magura districts near Khulna. Apart from this, there are two private medical colleges in Khulna and Jashore each.

Syedpur University: Along with the shopping malls and hospitals, the railways have undertaken university projects too. Railway lands will be allotted to private organisations for a long term for the implementation of this project. The railways have identified a 100-acre land for the implementation of the project. However, the Hajee Mohammad Danesh Science and Technology University in Dinajpur and Bogura Science and Technology University are located near Syedpur.

The former director of the disease control division of Directorate General of Health Services, B-nazir Ahmed said that the existing public and private medical colleges in the country are not doing well. In this situation, it would not be right for the railways to be involved in setting up new medical colleges.

He said that one should be strict to his duties only. The duty of the railways is to ensure passengers' service. If they pay attention to the hospital instead of doing their duty, that would not be good for both, he added.

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