Abu Hasem Khan Choudhury, the Union minister of state for health, has claimed that the Prime Minister would lay the foundation for the AIIMS in Raiganj by August.
Abu Hasem said the state government’s alleged refusal to buy land for the hospital would not come in the way of the project as the Centre could directly purchase plots for health care projects.
“The Centre was waiting for the state to act (on the purchase of land). But the state’s aloofness has delayed the project. Funds of around Rs 900 crore are lying idle and the Centre does not want to wait any longer. The Union government can acquire land for a health projecton its own and that process has begun for the AIIMS in Raiganj,” the minister told The Telegraph here yesterday evening.
A state health department official said the understanding was that the state government would provide the land and the Centre wound fund the hospital. “If this is the case, then the state government has to be a part of the project and the project cannot take place without it.”
But he added that if the Centre could both buy the land and fund the project, then it could set up the hospital on its own. “In that case, the Centre has to get the necessary clearance from the state land department.”
The AIIMS mooted for Raiganj has not taken off mainly because of the Mamata Banerjee government’s insistence on “no forcible acquisition of land” for any project. Besides, Mamata also wants the hospital to be made in Kalyani, not Raiganj, which is Congress MP Deepa Das Munshi’s Lok sabha seat.
Abu Hasem said the foundation stone for such a important project would be laid by the Prime Minister. “Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi will come to Raiganj for the ceremony and we are trying to complete the land acquisition as soon as possible so that the function can be held by August this year.”