The Roman Catholic Church in Ranchi revealed on Monday that after hectic efforts over five years, its proposed composite university project, including a medical college and a 500-bed hospital, was poised for a take-off.
“Since 2008, we have been scouting for land. Though divisive forces acted against us, the good news is that we have, of late, received a number of offers for lands in and around Ranchi. We have inspected some sites and our teams are verifying title deeds from the land revenue department offices,” Cardinal Telesphore P. Toppo said.
According to official norms, at least 25 acres is needed for a medical college.
But the composite project of the church would require around 300 acres. Medical college and hospital apart, the project includes a law university, nurses training centre, schools, colleges and residential quarters.
This February, Roman Catholic Church was forced to change the venue for the foundation stone laying ceremony from Khunti, the site proposed project site, to Loyola grounds, Ranchi, when villagers held mass demonstrations.
Now, the Cardinal revealed they received land offers “along Ranchi-Ramgarh and Ranchi-Jamshedpur stretches along the NH-33”.
Cardinal Toppo added there were more offers.
“There are large plots of lands that our well-wishers have offered to us on Ranchi-Lohardaga and Ranchi-Gumla stretches as well as in Bero, Itki and a few other places. God has been merciful despite our setbacks in Khunti this February this year,” the Cardinal said, though he declined to give exact locations.
“Once we get possession, we will draw up an action plan to approach corporate houses. Preliminary talks have been held though we will wait for land to be mutated in our favour before we formally begin approaching major corporate houses in India, our well-wishers and the faithful to chip in,” Toppo said.
He also hinted at “divisive forces” that delayed the project, though he did not specify whom.
“A medical college and a 500 bed super speciality hospital will be a blessing for the state and people at large. Unfortunately, divisive forces have thwarted our efforts to get land. I want to stress the church is not a land grabber. We have made it very clear that we are not interested in farmland or displacing villagers who depend on agriculture. Certain forces have prevented us from getting even barren land,” Toppo alleged.
When asked if he would petition the new Hemant Soren-led UPA government for land for the church project, Toppo stressed he had never approached the state government.
“I have never approached the state government for land. The church will buy the needed lands from its own resources. But, we will seek the state government’s help for no-objection certificates we need to file with Medical Council of India,” he said.
Interestingly, the project’s stones are already blessed by a high-ranking delegation. This February, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect Propaganda Fide of the Holy See, accompanied by Salvatore Pennacchio, Ambassador of the Holy See to India, Cardinals Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, Ernakulam’s George Alencherry and Thiruvananthapuram’s Baselios Cleemis, Toppo of Ranchi and other bishops had blessed the stones on Loyola grounds.
The blessed stones are now kept at the Ranchi office of the proposed medical college at Purulia Road, Ranchi, a stone’s throw from Archbishop House, Toppo’s official residence.
Where should the Church project come up?