AIIMS-like institute grounded as Centre,Bengal spar over location

Nearly three years after it was cleared,the AIIMS-like institute at Raigunj in Bengal remains on the drawing board,thanks to a standoff between the state government and the Union health ministry

Written by Abantika Ghosh | New Delhi | Published: January 23, 2012 3:09:09 am

Nearly three years after it was cleared,the AIIMS-like institute at Raigunj in Bengal remains on the drawing board,thanks to a standoff between the state government and the Union health ministry.

The Bengal government wants the institute at Kalyani in Nadia district but the health ministry is in no mood to oblige. The health ministry,in fact,has indicated that the state’s insistence on shifting the institute from Raigunj may see it go the way of a similar institute that was to come up at Rae Bareilly: it is in deep freeze because the Uttar Pradesh government wants it moved to Jhansi.

In a letter to the health ministry last month,the Bengal government said it was not possible to acquire land for the institute at Raigunj because most of it is farmland. On the other hand,there is plenty of land in Kalyani. Besides,the letter added,Kalyani is in need of such a superspeciality facility.

The health ministry,however,says it won’t go back on its decision. “The decision to set up the institute at Raigunj was a considered one so there is no question of going back on it. Moreover admitting the possibility of a change of location will only complicate matters because there will be demands from other heavyweights that their constituencies should not be deprived. It is not possible to make way for politics in planning health infrastructure,” a senior health ministry official said.

Raigunj is the pocket-borough of ailing Congress veteran Priyaranjan Dasmunshi and is represented in Parliament by his wife Deepa Dasmunshi. In the past,Deepa – in response to the stand of Trinamool Congress leaders,including Union MoS for Health Sudip Bandopadhyay,that Raigunj was an unacceptable choice of location – has cited the condition of her husband to justify the need for the institute in her constituency.

The Raigunj institute,sanctioned under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojna in 2009,is proposed to have 960 beds and 39 superspeciality departments. The 100-acre institute is likely to cost about Rs 823 crore.

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