Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while launching multiple development projects in Varanasi on July 15, 2021, claimed that Uttar Pradesh had 12 medical colleges till four years ago or before the current BJP government came in to power in the state. He also said that this number has increased four-fold now.
"Today, UP is witnessing unprecedented improvement in medical infrastructure, be it village health centres, medical colleges or AIIMS. Till 4 years ago, where there used to be a dozen medical colleges in UP, their number has now increased almost 4 times. Many medical colleges are in different stages of construction," said Modi at the inaugural ceremony of projects worth around Rs 744 crore, including nine medical colleges.
He also inaugurated many public projects and works, including a 100-bed maternal child health wing in Banaras Hindu University, multi-level parking at Godauliya, Ro-Ro Vessels for tourism development on River Ganga and three-lane flyover bridge on the Varanasi Ghazipur Highway.
Key development projects in #Varanasi include multi-level parking at Godaulia, Ro-Ro Vessels for tourism development and three-lane flyover bridge on the Varanasi-Ghazipur Highway.— PIB India (@PIB_India) July 15, 2021
Watch this short film for more details🔽 pic.twitter.com/ZWcKV34fdt
But Modi is not the first one to make such a claim. This statement has been made by several officials in the UP government during past few months and has been published as facts.
Around 10 days before this statement, the Times of India had written about the inauguration of nine medical colleges in the state and how that would take the count to 48. In the article, a spokesperson is quoted as saying, "There were just 12 medical colleges in UP till March 2017. But the BJP government announced to raise more medical colleges and ensure that people of the state do not have to travel to other states for treatment."
In another TOI article dated March 18, 2021, "officials" are said to have made the same claim. In fact, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath too made the same claim while addressing an investment and tourism event organised under the banner of Uttar Pradesh Association of North America in December 2020. In a PTI article, he is quoted as saying that till 2017, UP had just 12 medical colleges, 30 more are now being constructed and the government plans to have one in each of the 75 districts.
But this claim, although made several times, is incorrect. FactChecker looked at responses given in the Lok Sabha, Press Information Bureau releases and records kept by UP's Directorate of Medical Education and Training. Although all official documents don't have the same numbers, still none show the numbers claimed above.
Fact-checking Claim Part 1: 12 colleges till March 2017
Three official documents prove this claim to be untrue. Firstly, according to a July 2018 document filed under the Reference Division of Parliamentary Library on the 'Status of Medical Education in India', Uttar Pradesh had 45 medical colleges for the academic year 2016-17. Of these, 16 were government colleges and 29 private.
Secondly, in a response given in the Lok Sabha on July 22, 2016, the then Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Faggan Singh Kulaste gave a state-wise list of medical colleges in the country. The list shows that of the 439 medical colleges in the country, Uttar Pradesh had 38.
Lastly, the records of UP's Directorate of Medical Education and Training, which controls medical colleges and attached teaching hospitals, list government and private medical colleges with their year of establishment. According to these lists, the state had 41 government medical colleges and 24 private medical colleges till 2017. Also, it shows that while no private college has been established in the state since then, seven government colleges have been setup in 2019.
Fact-checking Claim Part 2: UP got 36 medical colleges in 4 years
Modi and Adityanath claimed that Uttar Pradesh now has 48 medical colleges, of which only 12 existed before the current BJP government came into power. This means the Adityanath-led government made at least 36 medical colleges.
But, according to two responses given in the Lok Sabha in February 2021 by Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Uttar Pradesh has 57 medical colleges and only 12 of them were established between 2018 and 2020 (9 government and 3 private). This doesn't include the nine medical colleges PM Modi inaugurated on July 15, 2021, which takes the number to 21 and not 36.
When the same data is presented based on academic year, it can be seen that between academic years 2017-18 and 2019-20, 10 medical colleges were established in the state.
Also, the statements made give no clarity on what setting up or establishing these colleges means. So, FactChecker looked at how many colleges have got approval from the Medical Council of India in recent years. In a written reply in the Rajya Sabha on September 15, 2020, Choubey gave a list of medical colleges recognised by the MCI or the central government during the last three years. This list includes only six medical colleges from Uttar Pradesh. The MCI was replaced by the National Medical Commission (NMC) in 2020 with an aim to overhaul the medical education regulation system.
Although data from all sources is different owing to the time they were collected, but none is even close to the numbers PM Modi and UP CM Adityanath have quoted.
FactChecker tried contacting both for a comment via email and calls to their offices but neither had responded by the time this article was published. If and when we do receive a response, we'll update the story.