NEW DELHI: In a landmark initiative to increase access to quality healthcare, then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee announced the PMSSY in his Independence Day speech of 2003. The NDA government merely treated this initiative as election-oriented, and went ahead with a usual spree of laying foundation stones between October 2003 and March 2004 without even transferring land properly.
After the UPA came to power, approval of the Union Cabinet came in March 2006. Perhaps for the first time, the Cabinet approved the proposal without detailed project reports (DPRs). It was based on the preliminary estimates of Rs 332 crore for each institution. The estimates had not been prepared by premier institutions like the CPWD. Without having an in-house capacity, or its own engineering wing to draw up estimates, the health ministry depended on PSUs like HLL, the country’s premier manufacturer of contraceptives. In fact, then health minister Anbumani Ramadoss has had to admit delay on the part of his ministry in Parliament in October 2008.
It took six years for real work to start—in 2009—when the Government got the clearances and DPRs. Contractors were selected and awarded work only in June 2010. The revised estimated cost for each of the AIIMS-like institutions has now more than doubled. The contractors, however, are happy. For the first time, an incentive and disincentive clause has been added for early completion of the projects. If the work is completed before time, the company would be paid up to Rs 10 crore and in the case of delay, penalty would be levied up to Rs 15 crore. The health ministry has selected contractors with good track records such as Nagarjuna Constructions, Consolidated Constructions, Punj Lloyd and Omaxe Limited. It has also established project monitoring cells in all the sites with a superintendent engineer monitoring progress on a daily basis, a ministry official said. A director for each institution would be appointed by next month. Though the health ministry has proposed creation of 4,047 posts for each of the six institutions, the finance ministry has approved creation of 1,145 posts only for each institution in the first phase of recruitment.
Medical institutions like AIIMS-Delhi, PGIMER-Chandigarh and JIPMER, Puducherry, have been designated as mentoring institutions for new six AIIMS-like institutions. AIIMS will mentor Patna and Bhubaneswar, PGIMER will mentor Rishikesh and Jodhpur and JIPMER will mentor Bhopal and Raipur.