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Bengal offers land options for AIIMS

A low-lying site that requires major earthwork or an asymmetrical construction-ready plot — the Union health ministry has to choose between the two to set up an AIIMS in Kalyani, 50km from Calcutta.

The Bengal government would offer these two land options to the central ministry this week following a survey of both plots by state health secretary Moloy Kumar De and other officials last month. De had sent the proposal to chief minister Mamata Banerjee last week for her approval before sending the file to Delhi.

Health department officials said both sites were spread across 150 acres, in accordance with the Union ministry’s stipulations for the proposed Rs 823-crore project, although the one on the outskirts of Kalyani would be ideal to set up the hospital.

“This contiguous plot at Basantapur is a low-lying paddy field. It has a symmetrical squarish shape but will need tonnes of earth to raise it to the level required for construction of such a huge project. Almost a year will be needed to get it ready, plus a lot of money,” an official said.

The other site on the National Volunteer Force (NVF) training school campus has an irregular shape but construction could begin right away since the land was readied earlier for an abandoned hospital project, the official added.

The state government would attach site maps of the two plots along with its recommendations to the Union ministry. “We’ll send the file this week,” the official said.

A central team will visit both sites and submit their report, based on which the state government will select a plot.

The NVF campus is a shout away from Kalyani railway station and adjacent to the National Institute of Biomedical Genomics and Gandhi Hospital. The plot had been earmarked for a hospital — Syed Nurul Hassan Post Graduate Medical Institute — that never took off.

“Infrastructure of the NVF campus is better. The land had been levelled with earth for the previous hospital project. It has water supply, drainage and other facilities. The sole hitch could be its shape, which is quite irregular,” the official said.

The land at nearby Basantapur, on the outskirts of Kalyani, has an edge because the Union government would prefer a regular shape even if that meant working and waiting a year to prepare the plot for construction.

A heath ministry official in Delhi had said as much. “We want to set up a centre of excellence and so the land’s shape is important. We’ll send a team soon for inspection but the final decision will rest on the state government.”

A Swastha Bhavan official said Basantapur could win the battle of plots, though the groundwork might delay the project. “The squarish shape could be the clincher.”

KALYANI PLOTS

National Volunteer Force training school campus

  • Site: Near railway station
  • Infrastructure: Land ready; water supply available

Basantapur

  • Site: Outskirts
  • Infrastructure: Nil; it’s a paddy field at present