AIIMS construction work in Assam to begin from October
GUWAHATI: The long-pending construction work for the proposed All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) to be set up in the state is finally set to begin October onwards.
Authorities informed that the primary level works are in process and the survey has already been completed; the construction work will begin in full swing from October.
“The work is already in progress and currently land filling is in progress but things are a bit slow of late because of the ongoing rains. However, we are expecting a lot of work to be completed within the coming months,” director of medical education, Anup Kumar Barman, informed G Plus.
A lot of controversy and uproar followed the selection of the site for construction of the hospital. However, Changsari was ultimately finalised by the state government as the location to set up AIIMS in Assam.
However, regarding the earlier concerns raised by several persons and organisations regarding the site selection, Barman said that now everything has been settled and Changsari has been decided as the final location. “It has also received clearance by the National Green Tribunal,” he said.
Officials said that recently, the state government has constructed an approach road from the national highway towards the site.
“We are also in the process of providing important amenities such as water supply and electricity to the location which is under the jurisdiction of the state government,” said Barman.
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal had earlier announced that the hospital will be 750-bedded and will consist of several super speciality departments. Before finalising on Changsari, there was a strong pitch for the hospital to be set up at Raha in Nagaon district.
The change of location by the government triggered wide-spread protests in Nagaon by the residents of Raha who wanted AIIMS to be set up in their district. Amid protests, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had laid the foundation stone of AIIMS in 2017.
On the other hand, certain individuals as well as groups had also opposed the plot selected for AIIMS at Changsari in Kamrup district.
Meanwhile, the matter also reached the National Green Tribunal (NGT) when four persons approached the tribunal stating that according to the government’s proposal, if the AIIMS is set up at Jalah Beel in Changsari, it will violate several acts pertaining to environment protection.
The applicants told the NGT that by deciding to set up the AIIMS at Jalah Beel, the central as well as the state government would violate the Guwahati Waterbodies (Preservation and Conservation) Act 2008 and the Wetland Conservation and Management Rule, 2010.
But in November 2017, the NGT cleared the setting up of AIIMS at Changsari, on the outskirts of Guwahati.
Concern over environmental impact
JN Khataniar, a city-based consultant engineer who had opposed the plot selected for AIIMS at Changsari, reiterated that construction over the Jalah Beel will have an adverse impact on the environment as Jalah Beel was a notified water body as per the Guwahati Master Plan and an eco-sensitive zone.
“I had opposed the government’s decision to set up AIIMS here stating that Jalah Beel should be preserved for the water retention of entire North Guwahati since already a lot of water bodies were converted into several projects. I had proposed that the government should select another site in North Guwahati,” Khataniar told G Plus.
Sources informed that while the case was still ongoing in the NGT, the Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority had modified their master plan to show Jalah Beel not as a water body but as a field or a grazing land.
Further, Khataniar added that the construction itself will prove to be difficult over a water body. “It will be a challenging job from an engineering perspective to construct a super-speciality healthcare unit over an eco-sensitive zone like Jalah Beel.”
Additionally, civil society groups had claimed earlier that the plot was unsuitable due to the high fluoride content in water and over ground pollution from a cement factory in the vicinity. They claimed that the people of North Guwahati will suffer a lot if anything goes wrong.