The Government has asked the Medical Council of India to revise the norms prescribed for opening of new medical colleges to enable opening of colleges in rural and under served areas, Panabaka Lakshmi, Minister of State for Health & Family Welfare told the Rajya Sabha recently. She said that the move would help deal with the problem of paucity of doctors in rural areas as medical colleges would double up as health care providers. Relaxations have been given in the norms for land requirement criteria for campus, bed strength, indoor occupancy for opening of medical colleges in the States where National Rural Health Mission is operational, North Eastern States, Hill states and Hilly districts in other States. For opening of new medical colleges in these areas the total land requirement will be 20 acres in not more than two pieces of land separated by a distance of 15 k.m. as against 25 acres prescribed for other parts of the country. The land separated by a road or canal connected with a bridge shall be treated as one piece of land. The criteria relating to bed strength in the teaching hospitals has been revised to 250 beds as against the 300 beds prescribe for other parts of the country. The criteria for indoor bed occupancy in these areas have been revised to 60%. The Ministry has sent 68 proposals for establishment of new medical colleges during the year 2009-10, for their technical evaluation and recommendation as per the provisions of the Medical Council of India Regulations. As per the time schedule prescribed in the MCI regulations the last date for grant of permission by Central government is July 15 of each year.