| EMOTIONAL INVESTMENT: Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee shares a laugh with Tata Sons chairman Ratan Tata at the unveiling of the cancer hospital and research centre at Rajarhat. Picture by Pabitra Das
The city made a tryst with medical history on Tuesday in a makeshift pavilion in the middle of nowhere.
By December 2007, the dusty stretch of Rajarhat that played host to the who's who of the Tata group and the Bengal chief minister on February 21 will be transformed into Calcutta's first advanced cancer treatment hospital and research centre.
Twenty-two months after Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee unveiled its foundation stone, the Tata Medical Centre will admit patients to ensure early detection, timely intervention and better treatment of cancer.
The hospital will have 150 beds to begin with, but expansion plans are already being chalked out, with the Tatas seeking another six acres adjoining the 10 acres provided for the centre.
'This is our contribution to the east and particularly to the state of West Bengal,' said Ratan Tata, who descended on Rajarhat with a full team of top Tata executives.
Statistics from the Tata Memorial Centre, Mumbai ' with which the Calcutta centre will have a strategic alliance 'reveal that over 24 per cent of the 230,000 patients it treats every year come from the Northeast and the east.
'Emphasis will be laid on early detection of cancer. More often than not, we see patients in Mumbai visiting the hospital at the terminal stage. Having a centre here will ensure timely intervention,' he added.
With cancer research and treatment all but absent here, oncologists felt that such a centre would help check the exodus of cancer patients from the state and hold out hope of early detection and even prevention.
'Treatment of cancer today is entirely evidence-based (treatment as per findings of clinical trials and result). So, if research accompanies a good clinical set-up, it will have multi-fold benefits for the city, the state and the region,' said a leading oncologist.
No surprises, then, that chief minister Bhattacharjee hailed Ratan Tata as 'a corporate leader with a difference' and thanked him profusely for bringing the centre to Bengal.
What R.K. Krishna Kumar, a Tata Sons board member, described as 'an emotional investment towards Bengal', has been pegged at Rs 120 crore, with 50 per cent of beds being dedicated to the poor.
Tata Medical Centre will have an outpatient and ambulatory care facility. The outpatient block will be built in two phases, covering 42,872 sq ft. Research tie-ups with international players are on the anvil.
Designed by architects Cannon Design, the facility will have tele-medicine facility with the Northeast, and will cater to patients from Nepal, Bhutan and, of course, Bangladesh.