The National Medical Commission on Wednesday deferred its decision to cap the number of undergraduate medical seats to 100 per 10 lakh population in every state, reported The Indian Express.

On August 16, the Undergraduate Medical Education Board, which functions under the commission, issued a notification stating that the approval for new medical colleges and an increase in the number of medical seats from the next academic session would be based on the seats-to-population ratio.

However, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Puducherry registered a strong protest against the notification.

Following this, the commission said that the provision would be implemented by the 2025-’26 academic year after holding further consultations with the stakeholders and taking the consensus of all states.

The commission has said that the move to cap medical seats would help in equitable distribution of resources and limit crowding of medical colleges in a state, reported NDTV. It would have also resulted in states like Bihar and Jharkhand getting 40,000 more medical seats as there is over 70% shortfall in these states.

All five southern states – Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Kerala – presently have over 100 seats per 10 lakh population. While Tamil Nadu has 11,600, Karnataka has 11,695. According to the commission’s capping rule, Tamil Nadu should have about 7,600 seats and Karnataka 6,700.

Due to this, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month, urging him to instruct the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to not implement the capping mechanism, reported The Hindu.

He said that imposing the condition would be “a direct encroachment on the rights of all state governments and penalisation of states who have invested more in their public health infrastructure over the years”.

The chief minister also said that even when there was adequate availability of doctors at the state level, there were districts where the availability continued to be a persistent issue.

“Any restriction on new medical colleges based on state-level criteria will deprive these deserving districts of much-needed tertiary institutions,” he said.

The Karnataka government also registered its objection to the plan last month, stating that it would adversely impact healthcare in southern India.

“This is an arbitrary decision taken by the Union government without consulting any stakeholders,” said Karnataka Medical Education Minister Sharan Prakash Patil. “Therefore, we are not going to abide by these guidelines. We are committed to our ‘one district, one medical college’ policy and we will start new government medical colleges in every district soon.”