Patna News

Nitish Kumar meets Union health secretary, reiterates demand for AIIMS at Shobhan

Patna: Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday reiterated his demand to have the state’s second All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) at Shobhan in Bihar’s Darbhanga after meeting with Union health secretary Apurva Chandra, who was on a two-day visit to the state, senior officials familiar with the matter said.

All Indian Medical Science (Representative Photo)
All Indian Medical Science (Representative Photo)

Chandra, a civil engineer from IIT-Delhi, reached Darbhanga on Monday, where he inspected the Darbhanga Medical College and Hospital (DMCH), a super specialty hospital.

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Accompanied by Bihar’s additional chief secretary (health) Pratyaya Amrit, health secretary Sanjay Kumar Singh, executive director of AIIMS-Darbhanga Dr Madhabananda Kar, Chandra also inspected the land of AIIMS construction site at Shobhan Bypass.

Later in the day, Chandra also visited AIIMS-Patna and the command and control center of the state health department, besides visiting the Bihar museum and the Swasthya Bhawan, before leaving for Delhi on Tuesday evening.

The Bihar government had in 2021 proposed to construct the second AIIMS in Shobhan. In August last year, CM Kumar had said that the proposed site at Shobhan in Darbhanga was the ideal place for the AIIMS second campus and if the Center wants to build it, it would be possible only there.

According to officials, Chandra told Kumar that he would discuss the matter with technical experts in Delhi before communicating a decision on the construction of AIIMS-Darbhanga.

Chandra also met Bihar chief secretary Amir Subhani. β€œThe decision to construct AIIMS at Shobhan will be taken at the highest level,” an official familiar with the matter.

β€œWe are hopeful as the Central team looked satisfied after visiting Shobhan (the site proposed for the new AIIMS in Darbhanga),” said the official quoted above.

The state cabinet has cleared a proposal to spend 3,115 crore to upgrade the existing 1,030-bed DMCH into a 2,500-bed hospital, leaving the Center with the only option of Shobhan for AIIMS-Darbhanga.

Technical experts, requesting anonymity, said the AIIMS-Darbhanga project would be delayed, as land-filling and compaction, for achieving stability of the earth, would need to be done layer by layer and require a minimum of two years, as the plot at Shobhan was low-lying.

A Central team had last April rejected the site, terming it β€œunsuitable” and asking for alternative land.

A letter by the then Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan on May 26 last year enumerated the challenges associated with the site proposed by the Bihar government, including that it was low-lying, needed extensive earth filling, had engineering challenges, and had potential water- logging issues.

The central team also said that the Shobhan plot would require a reinforced foundation because of the black-cotton underlying soil, which has a property to expand in rain and contract in summer, besides the need to fill up seven meters as the area was low- lying.

The state had in December last year agreed to do the landfilling at Shobhan and floated tenders after allocating. 309 crore for land-filling and construction of a boundary wall. The state had also committed to improving connectivity by constructing a four-lane road and making arrangements for power supply to the area.

The Center had then asked the state government to address the issues for the proposed AIIMS-Darbhanga at Shobhan, prompting the secretary’s visit to the site on Monday.

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