| Bihar health department secretary Amarjeet Sinha, Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and JPNAIIMS director GK Singh at the health hub on Thursday and (above) officials try to bring the director back on his feet after he slipped. Pictures by Ranjeet Kumar Dey
Jai Prakash Narayan All India Institute of Medical Sciences (JPNAIIMS) director tipped over in front of Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Thursday after one of his feet got stuck between two flights of staircases without railing, revealing the status of the ambitious project.
Dr G.K. Singh’s minor sprain in ankle helped Azad read the situation easily. The minister asked the superintending engineer to fix the staircase issue immediately and expressed his displeasure over the tardy progress of the project.
Azad reached the project site at 12noon. He spent over an hour reviewing the work at the under-construction JPNAIIMS and residential quarters of doctors with a battery of central and state officials. He pointed out several glitches in the project work during the inspection.
“There is no doubt that the construction work has been going on at a slow pace but now things are in the advanced stage and the target should be to start the medical college from the next session. The hospital will start a year after. The work at the site should be carried out 24x7,” said Azad.
Expressing doubt on if the classrooms would be ready ahead of August (when the medical college is supposed to open for students), Azad asked the officials whether the work could be completed within two months.
“As the monsoon will set in soon, it will be very difficult to carry out the construction work. Lot of finishing work has to be done before the medical college gets functional,” the minister said on his maiden visit to the site.
Azad said if the work is completed in the next two-three months, a central team will be sent to see the status before finally giving a go-ahead to commence the academic programme at the JPNAIIMS this year.
The minister said the state government had been taking interest in the central project and asked the engineers to ensure the quality of the work being carried out.
Dr Singh, who took Azad around the project site despite the fall, said the proposed intake of MBBS students in the college is 100 but only 50 students would get admission this year.
“All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi, has advertised for 300 seats this year. The entrance examination will be conducted on June 1. Of these, 50 students will get admission in the institution here,” he told The Telegraph.
The institute is all set to rope in 41 medical teachers for four basic medical science subjects. The teachers, including six non-resident doctors, have been selected by a board constituted by the Centre and would be appointed soon formally.
Though Azad expressed doubt over the timely completion of the construction work of JPNAIIMS, several people said efforts were on to start the medical college at the earliest to evade the wrath of Patna High Court, which has been monitoring the construction work of the mega project for over a year.
The court had directed builders to get the facility functional by October 2 this year. The institute, whose foundation stone was laid in 2004, is already five years behind the schedule and its cost has escalated from Rs 335 crore to Rs 850 crore.
The court constituted a core committee, including the joint secretary of the Union ministry of health and family welfare, JPNAIIMS director and state health joint secretary, last month to monitor the progress of the institute.
Chief minister Nitish Kumar last week visited the project site. He said the report of a committee headed by Patna Medical College and Hospital principal pointed out discrepancy in the list of departments of AIIMS, Delhi, and JPNAIIMS.
The panel recommended addition of 13 more departments to JPNAIIMS.
Nitish also expressed concern over inadequate housing arrangements for doctors and other employees at JPNAIIMS compared to AIIMS, where housing facilities exist for around 6,000 employees.