By Our Correspondent
Patna: In response to Union Home Minister Shri Amit Shah’s remarks regarding land allotment for the proposed AIIMS in Darbhanga during the BJP’s rally in Jhanjharpur today, Bihar’s Water Resources and Information & Public Relations Department Minister, Shri Sanjay Kumar Jha suggested that the Union Minister should personally inspect the site allocated by the Bihar Government for this prestigious healthcare institution.
“The land is best suited for the AIIMS construction, as Chief Minister Shri Nitish Kumar, who himself is an engineer and understands all the technical and scientific nuances, had given approval for it after personally inspecting and diligently reviewing every aspect of the site near the Shobhan-Ekmi Bypass in Darbhanga. The Bihar Government had approved over Rs 309 crore for filling of soil, levelling of land and construction of boundary wall on the allocated land. Furthermore, the land was allotted free of cost and tenders floated for the work,” he said.
The Bihar Minister said a team from the Centre after inspecting the allocated land had said that the land was suitable for the AIIMS construction. “However, it is unclear what happened later, as the central government seems to have backed out of constructing AIIMS on the allotted land in Darbhanga. Once the Centre gives approval for the AIIMS construction on this site, the soil-filling work will promptly commence,” he said.
The Bihar Minister also requested the Union Home Minister to visit the site near Shobhan-Ekmi Bypass himself. “Shri Amit Shah Ji once you visit the site, you will realize that the State Government has allocated the best suited land for the proposed AIIMS. For the development of the people of Bihar, including Mithila, the construction of Darbhanga AIIMS should be expedited,” he said.
Going back to the history of AIIMS establishment issue, Jha said the foundation of Bihar’s first AIIMS in Patna was laid by the then Vice President of India in 2004. Subsequently, in the 2015 Union budget, announcement to establish a second AIIMS in Bihar was made. “The call on the place of construction of the second AIIMS was to be taken by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, as the State Government had to provide the land for the project free of cost,” he said.
The Chief Minister had announced that the second AIIMS would be constructed in Darbhanga, and the Centre was officially informed about this decision. However, after five years, in 2020, the Union cabinet approved the establishment of the second AIIMS for Bihar.
Jha further stated that when the Bihar government proposed land for the Darbhanga AIIMS at DMCH, a team from Centre had pointed out several shortcomings, including terming it as ‘low land’. It had even mentioned that there was presence of a railway line on the other side. “Typically across the country AIIMS have been greenfield projects. One can see that the construction of AIIMS in Patna, located 12 km away from the city in Phulwarisharif, has catalysed growth in that area. Similarly, the construction of AIIMS on the outskirts of Darbhanga will trigger expansion of the city, boosting growth and development. Besides it would create employment opportunities,” he said.
Referring to the ‘Statue of Unity’ constructed at Kevadia in Gujarat, Jha pointed out that, “The state from which the Union Home Minister comes, the world’s tallest statue has been constructed on an island in the Narmada river. There are many such examples in the country where development has taken place in the mountainous areas, along rivers, and in remote locations. Even abroad, countries like Singapore and the Netherlands have reclaimed land from the sea for development.”
“People in Mithila are astounded as to why, when it’s possible to reclaim land from the sea, AIIMS cannot be constructed in Darbhanga by filling eight to ten feet of land. Even the Bihar government’s Darbhanga Engineering College is successfully running in the same region,” the Bihar Minister said.
He said Chief Minister Nitish Kumar personally had inspected and found the allotted land near Shobhan-Ekmi Bypass suitable during his ‘Samadhan Yatra’ in January 2023. “In March 2023, the Bihar Cabinet had approved the allocation of this land for the proposed AIIMS construction. In April 2023, the State Cabinet had approved a budget of Rs 309.29 crore for filling of soil, levelling, and boundary wall construction on the 189.17-acre land,” he said.
The Bihar Minister said the process of inviting tenders for soil filling, levelling, and boundary wall construction on the designated land has already been completed by the state government. “Additionally, the Water Resources Department has granted approval for providing soil free of cost from the Khirai river and from area arching Hanuman Nagar to Jatmalpur along the Bagmati river for this project,” he added.
Jha said the allocated land of AIIMS-Darbhanga is strategically located and is just 3 km away from Amas-Darbhanga four-lane road. “The Chief Minister has repeatedly assured that the State Government will take care of the connectivity issue and other necessary work to ensure easy access to the designated land. People from any district in North Bihar will be able to reach the place without getting stuck in traffic jams. Moreover, the land is also advantageously positioned as it is close to the Darbhanga Airport. This will make it convenient for specialist doctors from India and abroad to visit Darbhanga AIIMS, and it will also enable movement of critically-ill patients to and from the facility through air ambulances,” he said.