Rashid Paul

Announced by PM some 5 years ago, AIIMS for Kashmir, Jammu visible nowhere on ground

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Srinagar: At a time when the modest health-care infrastructure of Kashmir is crumbling under a heavy coronavirus load, an AIIMS like hospital would have provided the much-needed quality and affordable facility to its populace. But the proposed super specialty health facility is yet to reach the foundation laying threshold despite being announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi almost five years ago.

The Project was part of the Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP) announced on November 07, 2015 for the former state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Essentially a continuation of the 2003 Government of India PMSSY initiative, the AIIMS would have gone a long way in “correcting regional imbalances in the availability of affordable and reliable tertiary healthcare services” in J&K.

As part of the social infrastructure development under PMDP, two AIIMS like institutions were to be developed in the capital cities of Jammu and Srinagar with a central assistance of Rs 4000 crore — @ Rs 2000 crore per Institute.

But it took the union cabinet almost four years to approve the proposal in January 2019 after its announcement four years ago. The expenditure on the project has now been reduced from the proposed Rs 4000 crores to Rs 3489 crores.

AIIMS at Vijaynagar Jammu will now be set up at a cost of Rs 1,661 crore and has been awarded to a national level construction company.

Although Rs 1,828 crore has been approved for AIIMS Awantipura Pulwama, the process of its bidding is, however, yet to be started.

The executing agency for both the institutes is the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) — meaning almost all the men and material for raising the prestigious projects shall come from rest of the country, say the sources.

Nearly 1886 kanals of land have since been handed over to CPWD for constructing the AIIMS at Awantipore but tendering for the project is yet to be initiated.

Although issues like land acquisition, rehabilitation and compensation of the people affected by the project have been belatedly resolved, the construction agency is yet to finish the boundary wall for the site.

Rs 87 crore had been released by the state (now UT) government for compensation, road construction and other infrastructural utilities for the project.

The AIIMS, according to official information, was supposed to have around 750 hospital beds and would cater to around 1,500 OPD patients on daily basis.

The project besides providing super specialty healthcare would also have helped Kashmir in human resource development in medical science. A 100 MBBS and 60 B.Sc (Nursing) seats were supposed to be allotted to the institute besides creation of thousands of technical and non-technical jobs.

The Government of India was supposed to bear all the maintenance and operational costs for the AIIMS on the pattern of institutes scattered around the country.

With no one to fix the sluggish pace of work, this project of national importance seems unattainable within the current decade of the century, say the sources.

Interestingly most of the targets asset out in the proposed Rs 8057 social infrastructure plan under PMDP have remained unachieved, say the sources.

However, with some honest efforts two institutes of excellence involving Rs 2000 crores from PMDP have become operational so far.  These include an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and an Indian Institute of Management (IIM), both at Jammu.

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