BALASORE: Even as Union Health and Family Welfare Minister JP Nadda recently laid the foundation stone for the satellite centre of AIIMS-Bhubaneswar at Balasore nearly five years after its announcement, former Union Minister Srikant Jena on Sunday alleged political motive behind the move.
Jena, who represented Balasore during the UPA regime, said the drama behind the foundation stone ceremony is well understood as BJP leaders in the State are trying to hoodwink people ahead of the general elections. The satellite centre of AIIMS was announced in 2013 by the then Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad. The centre was supposed to have a 350-bed super-specialty hospital as well as a public health school and research unit on communicable diseases.
“It was supposed to be a unique health care facility in the Eastern region of the country. The then Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had also favoured it and assured budgetary provisions in 2014. But after Nadda took over, uncertainty over the project loomed large. No step was taken in the last four years,” Jena said.
The State Government had handed over 25 acres of land in Balia area on the outskirts of the town months after the announcement of the project. The land was left abandoned after construction of boundary wall until the buzz was created for the ground breaking ceremony.
Questioning the timing of the foundation stone laying event, the veteran Congress leader said both BJD and BJP are now busy claiming credit for the project, which is originally the brainchild of the previous Congress Government at the Centre. “I am told only `35 crore has been sanctioned. It shows the the intention of the NDA Government. How can the satellite centre along with a super-specialty hospital be built at the cost? They must come out with complete estimate and detail project planning,” Jena said. While outpatient door service of AIIMS is being provided at Range Staff Mess and Institute, a campus of Integrated Test Range, for the last over one year, the former Minister doubted whether only a building would be constructed for the purpose.
Several Congress leaders warned of taking the issue to people if the Centre fails to execute the original project proposal. “We want the satellite centre along with the public health research unit to be set up,” said Debadutta Das, former State Youth Congress secretary.