The Telegraph
Thursday , March 20 , 2014
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CM points finger at Centre for Raiganj hospital fiasco
- UPA government could have acquired land for AIIMS clone, says Mamata

Raiganj, March 19: Mamata Banerjee today said the state government had never posed hurdles to the establishment of a super speciality hospital in Raiganj and the UPA dispensation at the Centre could have acquired land directly from people for the facility.

Addressing a workers’ meeting as part of the Lok Sabha election campaign of the Trinamul Congress, the chief minister said the Congress had the habit of raising the hospital issue ahead of the polls.

“The UPA had two terms to set up the hospital. When we came to power in the state in 2011, we had announced the policy of not acquiring farmland by force. The Centre could have easily bought the land for the hospital itself and set up the facility. We have never posed any hurdles to the setting up of the hospital. It is typical of the Congress to raise this issue before any election and try to fool the people,” Mamata told the meeting at Durgapur Hatkhola in Itahar, about 10km from Raiganj.

She introduced Trinamul’s Lok Sabha candidates for Raiganj and Balurghat, Satya Ranjan Das Munshi, and Arpita Ghosh, respectively, to the workers. Accompanied by Trinamul’s all-India general secretary, Mukul Roy, the chief minister had arrived at the meeting venue around 4pm by helicopter from Calcutta. Over 5,000 people had gathered at the pandal constructed in an open field owned by a rice mill.

Mamata also told the crowd that the state had already planned a super-speciality hospital for Raiganj. “We have already planned a super-speciality hospital for Raiganj so that there is better healthcare facility in the region.”

The UPA I at the Centre had proposed the construction of a hospital modelled on the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Raiganj. The Congress said a plot had been identified at Panishala for the hospital and the owners were willing to part with the land for the project. The Congress always alleges that the state government is refusing to buy the land, as it was not interested in setting up the hospital in Raiganj.

Deepa Das Munshi, who is the Congress candidate for Raiganj, said the chief minister’s comment was “irrational”. “What can I say. She is the chief minister of the state and she should know for the Centre to acquire land for any project, a no-objection certificate is required from a state government. She is speaking irrationally and with a purpose to mislead the people. The UPA had even sanctioned funds for the hospital in February 2008.”

Later in the day, Mamata addressed a meeting of party workers in Malda also. She told the workers to ensure that both sitting MPs of the Congress in Malda were defeated. “The Malda Congress needs to be taught a lesson. In the last Assembly elections, we had an alliance with the Congress. There were three seats, out of the 11 in Malda we had contested. The Congress betrayed us and ensured that we lost. We lost to the Left in Habibpur and Malatipur.”