It has been more than one year since the Centre sanctioned an AIIMS for Gujarat, but the project is yet to take off with two regions of the state fighting to house the premier medical institute. The issue figured in the ongoing Gujarat Assembly session. Last Thursday, MLAs of Saurashtra were pitted in the House against those of Vadodara over which area should get the hospital.
Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel had to warn the two sides not to make it an issue of region as this may force the Centre to rethink on giving an AIIMS to Gujarat. Setting up an AIIMS (All India Institutes of Medical Sciences) in the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the 2017-2018 budget.
On demand from Vadodara in central Gujarat and Rajkot in Saurashtra, the state government had identified potential sites near both cities and shown them to officials of the Union health department. The question regarding the proposed AIIMS was raised by Congress MLA Shailesh Parmar during the Question Hour, who sought to know the progress of the project.
During a discussion on the issue, Congress MLA from Lathi Virji Thummar said the AIIMS should be set up in Rajkot as it will help the people of the entire Saurashtra region. He said Vadodara, the other contender, is a developed city having various health facilities. In comparison, Rajkot and Saurashtra lack good medical facilities and the AIIMS there will help fill that gap.
Congress MLAs Harshad Ribadiya and Vikram Madam (both from Saurashtra) also demanded that the AIIMS be allocated to Rajkot. BJP MLA from Raopura (Vadodara) Yogesh Patel, however, pitched for his city, saying as it is located in central Gujarat and 60 per cent of the state’s population can benefit if the hospital comes up there. Other Vadodara MLAs supported him.
Nitin Patel, who also handles the health portfolio, urged MLAs not to make it a regional issue and let the Centre decide on the place. “The Centre will think twice before giving AIIMS to Gujarat. What is important is to have an AIIMS in Gujarat. The people of the state can benefit from it wherever it comes up. Patients from Rajasthan and even Madhya Pradesh come to the Ahmedabad Civil Hospital for treatment,” the deputy chief minister told the house.
Speaking in Parliament in December 2017, Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Ashwini Kumar Choubey had said, “The Gujarat government had offered sites (for establishing an AIIMS). A central team has inspected these sites and submitted a report.”