Under Trinamool pressure, Centre may shift AIIMS site to Nadia

Under pressure from its key ally Trinamool Congress, the Centre has agreed to resolve the issue of relocating a new AIIMS-like premier medical institute in Nadia district instead of Raiganj in West Bengal.

There has been a three-year tussle between the Centre and the West Bengal government over the proposed site of new AIIMS-like institute with the state government seeking a change in its original location.

During the 12th Plan, the Centre had proposed setting up of two AIIMS-like institutes at Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh and Raiganj in West Bengal. While UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi represents Rae Bareli in Lok Sabha, Raiganj is the stronghold of ailing Congress leader Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi.

The current softening of Centre's stand comes in the wake of Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Sudip Bandyopadhyay writing a note to his senior minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, asking him to accept the state's demand. "I have written to the Minister. We will resolve the issue after discussion later this month," Bandyopadhyay told PTI. "Since health is a state subject, the Centre should agree to the state government's demand of relocating the AIIMS-like institute in Kalyani, which is close to state capital Kolkata," he added.

The state has also assured of availability of land for the Institute," he said.

Azad has since agreed to discuss the matter with Bandyopadhyay later this month and resolve the issue.

The Centre's climb-down on its stand comes after strong demands raised by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and reiterated by Bandyopadhyay, who is the Leader of Trinamool Congress Parliamentary Party in Lok Sabha. Trinamool Congress has 19 members in the Lok Sabha.

The proposed 100-acre Institute at Raigunj, sanctioned in 2009, is proposed to have 960 beds and will cost over Rs 800 crore.

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