A single brick, with the inscription AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences), held in the air during the Assembly election campaign a few months ago in Tamil Nadu has left the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) extremely embarrassed.
The Udhayanidhi Stalin Brick Uprising incident of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam revealed the real status of AIIMS proposed in Madurai. Nothing exists outside of the perimeter wall at the 262-acre site of Thhopur village in Madurai.
The BJP and its alliance partner, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) were left behind as no explanation was sufficient to justify the inordinate delay.
The first stone was laid in January 2019 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the new AIIMS for Madurai, after the announcement of an AIIMS for Tamil Nadu in 2015. The Union government expressing interest in starting services outpatient and MBBS courses starting with the academic year, the state government has sought time to explore available alternatives.
“UNION GOVT READY TO START SERVICES”
After much embarrassment over the delay in starting construction work, the Union government has now gone into troubleshooting mode in an attempt to save face. In an affidavit filed before the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court, the government expressed its willingness to start outpatient services and MBBS courses, depending on the availability of alternative space.
The Union government has offered to admit students to JIPMER, Puducherry or Madurai Medical college / any art college or any private medical college in Madurai. Tamil Nadu government’s Health and Family Minister, Mr Subramaniam, however, said the Union government’s three suggestions were not feasible.
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“The state is studying the possibility of admitting 50 students each to the government medical schools of Madurai, Theni and Sivaganga, or 30 each to the government medical schools of Madurai, Theni, Sivaganga, Thoothukudi and Tiruchi. We will consult with the Chief Minister and submit a report soon, ”he said, The Hindu reported.
The higher intake of 250 students for the MBBS course at Madurai Medical College, while Puducherry being another Union territory, is cited as the reason for the state government’s reluctance.
THE MEMBER QUESTIONS LATE AT WORK
Madurai MP S Venkatesan from CPI (M) raised the issue in parliament in March 2021 regarding the slow process of setting up AIIMS. The MP asked for responses for the planned phases for completion of AIIMS, details of the phased block / building construction plan and the start date and target date for completion of each phase.
To which the Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare replied that “the Union Cabinet has approved the establishment of a new AIIMS in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, at a cost of Rs. 1 264 crores. AIIMS in Madurai is being set up with a loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for which negotiations have been completed. The preliminary activities have been launched on the project site.
But a response from RTI in February, a month earlier than the Union Minister’s response, revealed that the cost of the project had been revised to nearly Rs 2,000 crore. The revised estimate was prepared by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which will lend 85% of the cost of the project.
AGREEMENT WITH JICA SIGNED
The hospital’s revised estimate is Rs 1,977.8 crore, of which JICA will provide Rs 1,627.7 crore as a loan. The remaining amount will be sanctioned by budget support.
The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, in a response to S Venkatesan, said the agreement was signed on March 26, 2021 with JICA.
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The Union Minister of State also replied that “Project cell posts for AIIMS Madurai have been created and an executive director, deputy director (administrator), superintendent engineer and administrative officer have been appointed. . The process of hiring a project management consultant through a global tender has been initiated by this ministry.
The construction time could be longer than expected because JICA should disburse the loan in 71 months, against 45 months initially announced. Meanwhile, several other AIIMS announced with AIIMS Madurai have started admitting students.
WHAT CAUSED THE DELAY?
The demand for AIIMS was raised by former MP for Madurai, P Mohan of CPI (M), in parliament during his tenure between 1999 and 2009. The long wait ended with the announcement of the budget of the Union in February 2015. It took more than three years for the state government to identify Madurai as the location.
The approval was given by the Union government in December 2018, following which Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone in January 2019, a few months before the last Lok Sabha elections.
The BJP government has announced that the 750-bed facility at a cost of Rs 1,624 crore will be built in 45 months.
In September 2019, permission to enter the allocated land was granted by the Madurai District Administration. The land handover letter was sent to the Union government on November 6, 2019.
No work progressed even after the land was handed over, except for the construction of the perimeter wall on the 262-acre site. The former AIADMK-led state government and the BJP-led Union government have also been criticized for the undue delay in starting construction on the much-sought-after project.