Deepa in her office in New Delhi on Monday
Raiganj, Oct. 30: Deepa Das Munshi today said she would get the construction of the AIIMS-like hospital started within the next fiscal.
The newly-appointed Union minister of state for urban development said she had spoken to Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad yesterday.
“As soon as I stepped into my office yesterday, I called up the Union minister of health, Ghulam Nabi Azad, and minister of state for health, Abu Hasem Khan Choudhury, and we discussed the plan for acquiring land required for the hospital. We are not disclosing the plan right now. However, my first pledge after taking over as a Union minister is to get the foundation stone for the institute laid by the end of the current financial year. I have taken the launch of the construction during the next fiscal year as a challenge,” Deepa told The Telegraph over the phone from Delhi.
“If the state government co-operates, it is well and good. If it doesn’t, we have an alternative plan.”
After her oath-taking at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Sunday as a Union minister of state, the Raiganj Congress MP had pledged to get the foundation stone for the facility laid by the end of the current financial year.
She said that during her first visit to the district on November 1 after the swearing-in, she would sit with the Congress leadership and the farmers of Panishala who are willing to sell land for the hospital.
“We will decide on our strategy after that,” said Deepa.
Abu Hasem Khan, who visited the state Congress headquarters Bidhan Bhavan this afternoon, said the Centre would purchase the land for the hospital. “I am telling you that an AIIMs-like super-speciality hospital will be constructed at Raiganj and for this, the Centre would purchase the entire land, come what may,” he said.Liyakat Ali, a farmer from Panishala, said he and others were willing to sell off their land.
“We have sent several signals to the chief minister that we are willing to give up our land for the construction of the hospital. But we have been ignored. Our hopes have once again come alive with Deepa Das Munshi becoming a minister. We will have a meeting with her on November 1 and demand that the Centre take land directly from us,” he said.
The North Dinajpur district president of the Trinamul Congress and Itahar MLA, Amal Acharya, said Deepa was acting stubborn.
“Our government’s policy is not to acquire farmland. We have an alternative land in Raiganj and we have sent our proposal to Mamata Banerjee. I do not know why Deepa Das Munshi is talking about a foundation stone-laying ceremony. Where will it be set up? In thin air?” said Acharya.