Rourkela: While the central government’s decision on the second AIIMS in Sundargarh is still awaited, initiation of the process for establishing a medical college by the Odisha government on the same campus has fuelled speculation that the district may no longer be considered for the premier medical institution.
This has led to resentment in various quarters and the demand for the same has gained momentum in the district.
The district Congress unit has called for a bandh on August 7 to push for Sundargarh’s case to have Odisha’s second AIIMS facility. The demand has the support of various organisations in Sambalpur too.
At present, the state has a fully functional AIIMS in Bhubaneswar.
On December 13, 2013, the state government signed an MOU with public sector power major NTPC to develop infrastructure for establishing a 500-bed hospital with medical college. The government had agreed to run the institution.
Accordingly, construction work of the said hospital-cum-medical college started in 2014 and it was completed about a few months back. After the infrastructure work, the state government requested the Centre to establish AIIMS second campus there.
In November 2020, the then Chief Secretary Asit Tripathy requested Union Secretary of Health and Family Welfare Rajesh Bhushan to consider Odisha’s demand for the second AIIMS at Sankara in the district, where the NTPC had already developed infrastructure.
Odisha Health Minister Naba Kishore Das also wrote to the Centre for establishing a second AIIMS in Sundargarh using the same infrastructure.
On April 3 this year, a nine-member team central team under the leadership of AIIMS-Bhubaneswar director Gitanjali Batmanabane visited Sundargarh and inspected the building and other available facilities.
The team members also had a meeting with senior administrative officials of the district. Sundargarh Collector Nikhil Pawan Kalyan had then given a presentation on the infrastructure and the available logistics to the AIIMS team.
The collector had assured to fill the gaps if any with funds from District Mineral Foundation.
BOOST TO HEALTHCARE SERVICES
The visit of the AIIMS team had kindled hope in various quarters, particularly among people in western Odisha.
Various organisations had said the AIIMS second campus in Sundargarh would be a boon in healthcare service for the people of western Odisha. “Despite being a mineral-rich area and generating high revenue for the state exchequer, the tribal-dominated Sundargarh continued to be a backward area of the state,” said MLA Rourkela and Chairman, District Planning Commission, Sharada Prasad Nayak.
The second campus of AIIMS in Sundargarh would boost healthcare services not only for western Odisha but also some parts of neighbouring states like Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, he added.
While there has been no response from the Union government on AIIMS second campus in Sundargarh, the state government has taken an initiative to establish a medical college on the same campus.
According to an official order, the District Medical Officer, Sundargarh, has been appointed Additional Superintendent-cum-Nodal Officer of the medical college and hospital in Sundargarh.
“He will be responsible for regular supervision of the progress of construction work and for coordination with district administration and other local authorities, in addition to his own duties,” the order said.
Besides, the health department has reportedly been taking initiative to complete the formalities and begin the admission process from the 2022-23 academic session.
On June 25, the Director of Medical Education and Training (DMET) got the nod from the health department to file an application with National Medical Commission for establishment of the MCH for the academic year 2022-23.
“Besides appointment of DMO as the Additional Superintendent-cum-Nodal Officer of the NTPC medical college, the health department has initiated steps to complete all the formalities to start admission into MBBS courses by 2022-23,” said CDMO, Sundargarh, Saroj Kumar Mishra.
DEMAND GROWS SHILLER
Meanwhile, VIMSAR Resident Doctors Association president Sanjib Kumar Mishra and Nagarika Kalyan Samiti, Sambalpur, president Mahendra Mishra and other office bearers of the Samiti met the Revenue Divisional Commissioner, Northern Range, on Friday and submitted a memorandum addressed to the Prime Minister for expediting the AIIMS second campus work in Sundargarh.