After the Congress rout in the Lok Sabha elections and the defeat of Union minister Deepa Dasmunshi in Raiganj, it could be the end of the road for a plan to have an All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Raiganj. In his first meeting with directors of the six new AIIMS on Friday, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said the Centre is willing to look into West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s suggestion that the proposed medical institute should be shifted out of Raiganj.
Banerjee had cited land acquisition issues in Raiganj and suggested that the project be taken up in Siliguri or Cooch Behar. Vardhan said he would be happy to review the suggestion. “Land acquisition should not be a problem for a hospital because it is for a public purpose. Moreover, it would be a government-run free facility and no private company would make profits. So I would request all chief ministers to avail this opportunity,” the minister said. He added that he would soon request chief ministers of all states to get AIIMS-like institutes functional.
In the first phase, six AIIMS have come up at Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Jodhpur, Patna, Raipur and Rishikesh. They have all started partial operations in giving tertiary health care as well as undergraduate and postgraduate medical education. Stressing that he is prepared to take radical steps to ensure timely implementation of the six ongoing projects, the minister asked the directors to submit detailed status reports within a week. Their reports would then guide ministry officials in the future implementation of new AIIMS projects.
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Vardhan has also directed the ministry’s officers to establish schools of public health in all six new AIIMS. Presently, the International School of Public Health is functional only in AIIMS-Jodhpur and AIIMS-Raipur in partnership with Harvard School of Public Health.