The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Twin boosters for healthcare
- Mega projects to fan medical tourism

Two mega projects, involving over Rs 2,000 crore, are underway to create a healthcare hub of international standards in Calcutta.

The twin health cities, one off the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass and the other near Calcutta airport, when complete, will not only offer the best multi-treatment facilities on campus, but will also have the potential to draw medical tourists from all parts of the globe to Calcutta.

Work on the first Health City will begin soon on 25 acres off the Bypass.

The 5,000-bed Asia Heart Foundation (AHF) project, when complete, will have 20 centres, each dedicated to a separate branch of medicine.

“The government has already allotted 10 acres and we are in the process of tying up with a foreign investor who will construct and hand over the buildings on a lease-rental basis. We will, in turn, run the hospitals,” Devi Shetty, AHF chairman, said on Sunday.

In the first phase involving Rs 550 crore, around 2,500 beds will come up for specialised treatment of cancer, kidney and neurology, among other fields.

The second project, the largest-ever venture undertaken anywhere in India, involves the Association of Hospitals of Eastern India (AHEI), a conglomerate of 11 leading hospitals of India, who are working on a Rs 1,000-crore health city. The project will see the creation of 50 multi-dimensional health facilities on one campus.

“At the moment, we are putting finishing touches to the project report, which we will hand over to the government later this month. Once the final proposal is accepted, we will take it from the drawing room to the execution stage,” said AHEI president Sajal Dutta.

The decision to create the first-of-its-kind health city in Calcutta was taken after chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who is keen on turning Calcutta into a major destination for medical tourism, met AHEI members a few months ago.

“The chief minister asked us whether we would be able to pull through such a huge project, and we assured him we could,” Dutta said.

According to the draft plan being finalised now, the health city will come up on at least 60 acres near the airport, with separate facilities for cancer, neurology, paediatrics, orthopaedics and other branches of medicine.

This apart, the hospital will have modern facilities for alternative forms of medicine, like naturopathy and ayurveda. According to discussions with the government, shuttle bus services will ferry medical tourists to hotels on campus.

C.R. Maiti, director of medical education, said he was hopeful that poor patients would be able to get treatment in the health cities. At least 20 per cent beds will be reserved for them.

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