The Hindu Tiruchi 21.6.2018
AIIMS decision comes as shocker to stakeholders in central region
JUNE 21, 2018 00:00 IST
UPDATED: JUNE 21, 2018 05:03 IST
FCSO sends RTI application to Centre and State seeking clarification on selection of Thoppur in Madurai district over Sengipatti in Thanjavur
Civic activists and the medical fraternity in the central region have expressed shock over the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s decision to establish the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) at Thoppur in Madurai district overlooking the claims of Sengipatti in Thanjavur.
The stakeholders had all along been batting for Sengipatti as the ideal choice for the prestigious project by virtue of its central location in the State, location of the site alongside a four-laned national highway, availability of abundant space and easy connectivity to Tiruchi international airport among a host of conducive factors.
Ever since Chief minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to set up AIIMS at Sengipatti during a meeting in February last, people of the region had been hoping that the final choice of the location was just a matter of formality. In May last, the Principal Secretary of Health is also believed to have sent a detailed report to the Centre justifying Sengipatti as the right choice.
“Overlooking Sengipatti in favour of Thoppur, where certain disadvantages were cited in the past, has caused a huge disappointment to the people in the Central region of Tamil Nadu,” M. Sekaran, president, Federation of Consumer and Service Organisations (FCSO), said.
FSCO has sent an application under RTI to the Central and State Governments, seeking to know whether the regional imbalance in health care was considered before choosing Thoppur for establishing AIIMS under the PMSSY (Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana) Scheme, he said.
Under PMSSY, Madurai district has already been sanctioned a speciality hospital, which is now in an advanced stage of completion. Also, Madurai district has been sanctioned Rs. 356 crore under the Tamil Nadu Urban Health Care Project supported by Japan International Cooperation Agency, Mr. Sekaran pointed out.
Moreover, the safety aspect has been ignored since IOC’s petroleum pipeline passes through the site, he said and wondered whether the Centre had buckled under “pressure exerted by influential politicians.”
Under challenge method, Sengipatti ranked high in vital aspects including early availability of suitable land, provision of utilities such as power and water supply, health indicators and gap in tertiary healthcare facilities, and transport connectivity.
M.A. Aleem, president, Tamil Nadu-Puducherry Association of Neurologists, felt that the State, in fact, required another AIIMS at Tiruchi or Thanjavur in addition to the one sanctioned in Madurai.
The Centre had to relax its policy of sanctioning only one AIIMS per State and consider providing additional ones to larger States where the population was much higher and in need of more number of tertiary care centres, Dr. Aleem said.
With more than 23 government and private medical colleges, Tamil Nadu definitely deserved another AIIMS, he emphasised.