Calcutta, Jan. 28: The All-India Institute of Medical Sciences could have come to town 50 years ago had former chief minister B.C. Roy not turned down an offer from the Centre “to keep Delhi at bay”.
Five decades after that refusal, “amends” are being made. But what Calcutta is getting is a Rs 100-crore grant from the Centre to merely “upgrade Medical College and Hospital to match AIIMS standards”.
Health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra, however, was not short of enthusiasm this morning as he recounted his conversation with his central counterpart, Sushma Swaraj.
“I have spoken to the minister and she has given us the go-ahead to identify the areas that need to be improved to take Medical College to where AIIMS is. The Rs 100-crore grant is also confirmed,” he announced at the institution’s foundation day function.
Although the state government has happily accepted the offer, there are fears that the new facilities will end up inheriting the drawbacks and work culture of the hospital.
If the objective is to create a centre of excellence, the state should have opted for a greenfield project with the ambition of matching the standards of the Indian institutes of technology in engineering and the Indian institutes of management in business administration, sources said.
Installation of new machines and buildings in the old setting without matching manpower and expertise is unlikely to produce an AIIMS clone.
Some months ago, on a visit to the city, Swaraj spoke of the Centre’s willingness to help upgrade a state-run hospital to “AIIMS standards”. The Bengal government identified Medical College as “it is the oldest and the most prestigious”, according to a health department official.
A proposal was sent to the Union health ministry, which sent a team a fortnight ago. Going by Mishra’s account of the conversation with Swaraj, the team would have gone back convinced of the institution’s credentials.
At the centre of the upgradation plan is a nine-storey building that will house a separate multi-speciality hospital (for departments like surgery, nephrology, radiotherapy and plastic surgery) on the campus itself, officials said.
One of the largest shares of the funds will go to the radiotherapy department. The Rs 15 crore that will be injected into it will be spent on buying sophisticated machinery to help in precision therapy on cancerous cells.
Upgradation of other departments — ENT, haematology, cardio-thoracic and vascular surgery, neurosurgery and neuromedicine — is also on the cards.