15-crore offer for AIIMS-like hospital

The Centre is ready to pay Rs 15 crore to purchase land in Raigunj to build a super-specialty medical institute on the lines of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said in the city on Saturday.

Usually, states hand over land for hospitals and other public projects free of cost.

Speaking on the sidelines of a book launch, the minister said farmers seemed willing to give up land for the project but the Centre could go ahead only if the state government took care of the acquisition. "The Raigunj zilla parishad has held talks with farmers on land and they are willing. The Centre, too, is willing to pay Rs 15 crore, the cost of the land. But the actual process of acquisition has to be undertaken by the state," Azad said.

It has been several years since the project was proposed, there has been no development because of acquisition hurdles. The Left Front government was reluctant to go ahead with acquisition after the setbacks at Nandigram and Singur, the Mamata Banerjee government has made it clear that it would not acquire land, even for a super-specialty hospital.

Sources said Mamata was also not keen on the high profile hospital being located in arch rival and Congress leader Deepa Das Munshi's territory. In fact, the CM had offered land at New Town adjoining Kolkata but that has not been accepted by the Centre. "We are building these AIIMS-like hospitals in remote areas where there are no medical facilities available," Azad reasoned.

Thus, even though farmers may be willing to hand over land and north Bengal is in dire need of the facility, the proposal remains still born. While Bengal continues its internal squabbles, six such hospitals have come up in all neighbouring states — Bihar, Jharkhand and Orissa as well as Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. The Uttar Pradesh government has also identified land and is transferring it to the Centre free of cost.

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