AIIMS Kerala: Plea says Kozhikode chosen over Kasaragod sans centre’s nod

Decision made without conducting any study or adhering to PMSSY rules: People’s collective
Image used for representation
Image used for representation

KOCHI: With a new government set to assume office at the Centre, demands to establish an All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Kasaragod are gathering strength. At the same time, the state government has finalised land — owned by KSIDC — at Kinaloor in Kozhikode district as the proposed AIIMS site without consulting or receiving approval from the Union government, alleged AIIMS Kasaragod Janakeeya Koottayma.

The decision was made without conducting any study or adhering to the principles of the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY) scheme, said the society formed to further the cause of bringing the institute to Kerala’s northernmost district.

Considering the Koottayma’s petition in that regard, the Kerala High Court on Monday directed the Union government to file a report. The society had approached the court to contest the exclusion of Kasaragod as a site for AIIMS, highlighting the urgent need for advanced medical infrastructure in the region. It also sought to declare Kasaragod district as the most suitable, feasible, and essential location for the establishment of AIIMS.

K K Subeesh, the counsel for the petitioners, said the proposed site in Kozhikode lacks the required land and essentials outlined by the Union government. According to the petition, the Kasaragod district — having a population of around 14 lakh — is in dire need of a super speciality hospital with lower expenses because of the presence of endosulfan victims who need specialised medical attention.

Around eleven panchayats in the district have more than 2,500 children living with critical health issues following endosulfan exposure. The district suffers from inadequate medical facilities, a situation exacerbated by decades of neglect by successive governments. The people of Kasaragod were forced to travel to the nearest city — Mangalore — for the services of tertiary care hospitals, the petition said.

The society pointed out that the foundation for a medical college hospital was laid on November 30, 2013, at Ukkinadka in Kasaragod. But the work on the hospital drags on and lacks financial support. After the Covid outbreak, the academic block was converted into a Covid hospital. However, it does not have an ICU facility and lacks adequate doctors, and hence, critical patients are referred to the Government Medical College in Pariyaram, Kannur.

In 2014, the Union government -- having decided to establish AIIMS in all states under PMSSY -- had asked states to propose three or four alternative sites with an approximate area of 200 acres. In reply, the state government proposed four sites — land near the open jail in Nettukaltheri, Neyyattinkara, land belonging to the Government Medical College in Kottayam, and property belonging to HMT in Ernakulam, besides the Kinaloor site.

The petitioner alleged that though Kasaragod is the most deserving district, it was not included. The selection of the land in Kinaloor is illegal as only 154.43 acres of land there is available with the government, the petitioner said.

The Koottayma contended that the state government’s decision amounts to grave injustice and smacks of political expedience rather than genuine concern for public health.

In February 2023, the International Journal of Science and Archive reported that Kasaragod’s healthcare system lags behind all other districts and this was because the people are increasingly dependent on Mangaluru.

When the petition came up for hearing, Union government counsel Suvin R Menon said the proposal is pending with the Centre.

REPORT SOUGHT

  • AIIMS Kasaragod Janakeeya Koottayma has taken up the matter with High Court

  • Considering the petition, the High Court on Monday directed the Centre to file a report

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