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Funds push for cancer unit

The Centre has approved Rs 400 crore for a cancer hospital project in Calcutta that has been in limbo since being conceived 12 years ago because of lack of funds.

The cabinet committee on economic affairs on Thursday approved funds for the second campus of Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute (CNCI) in Rajarhat.

The remaining Rs 134 crore of the project cost of the first phase of the hospital has to be provided by the state.

“We are expecting the funds by the end of this fiscal. We have set a target to complete the construction in 30 months,” said CNCI director Joydip Biswas.

“We have got all the necessary clearances and are waiting for the funds.”

State government sources said chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who also looks after the health department, had early last month promised at a meeting to disburse the state’s share of the project cost.

The plan to set up a second campus of the state-run cancer hospital was mooted in 2003-04. A 10-acre plot in New Town Action Area I was earmarked for the campus in 2008.

The safety nod from the Airports Authority of India, a must for any highrise in the vicinity of the airport, has come for the proposed eight-storeyed building, he said.

The hospital, planned near Tata Medical Center, another dedicated cancer hospital, has been conceived in two phases. The first phase will have 460 beds, while the second — to come up at an estimated cost of Rs 450 crore — will have around 300.

The hospital will be spread across 80,000sq m with facilities for clinical research and development of drugs.

It will have all oncology subspecialities, a nursing college, a centre for rehab medicine and a nuclear medicine department.

The hospital will also have positron emission tomography-computed tomography, popularly known as PET-CT, a tool that helps in precision diagnosis of cancer.

No state-run hospital in Bengal has a PET-CT facility. “NRS Medical College and Hospital will soon install a PET-CT,” said health department officials.

The CNCI second campus will also have a bone-marrow transplant unit and departments for robotic surgery and advanced radiotherapy. CNCI’s existing facility at the Hazra crossing, which has 200 beds, will continue to function.

Every year, around 80,000 people in Bengal are afflicted with cancer, many of whom are forced to go to other states for treatment because of lack of facilities here.