Staff Reporter

One-time grant of Rs.100 crores for AIIMS status

Thiruvananthapuram: The hopes that Thiruvananthapuram Medical College will be upgraded to the level of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) were `dashed' on Tuesday following a communication from the Union Government that made it clear that the Rs.120-crore assistance that had been declared was only a one-time grant.

It was on June 22 that the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister, had given the nod for upgrading 13 existing medical institutions to the level of the AIIMS at a total cost of Rs.1,560 crores, under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana.

It was also announced that six institutions will be set up afresh, which will have super-specialty and research facilities like AIIMS.

However, the communication received by Medical College Hospital (MCH) authorities and the Health Secretary on Tuesday said the Union Government would provide an assistance of Rs.100 crores only and that the remaining Rs.20 crores would have to be provided by the State Government. All the recurring expenditure in developing the institution will have to be taken care of by the State Government.

"The Rs.100-crore assistance is for developing the infrastructure and running super-specialty and advanced paramedical courses. It has been specified that expenses on construction activities would have to be minimal. This certainly limits our prospects for advancement," a senior official told The Hindu .

However, according to sources, the prospect of getting a Rs.120-crore grant under the Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Yojana had been intimated to the MCH authorities a few months ago. There was never any mention about elevating the MCH to the status of the AIIMS then. Accordingly, a proposal for Rs.150 crores had been submitted by the authorities. MCH sources say the June 22 announcement about the Rs.120-crore grant and the mention of the AIIMS did create some confusion.

The MCH cannot be raised to the level of the AIIMS without acquiring more land for development, more manpower and above all maintaining the hospital as strictly a referral institution by strengthening all hospitals in the periphery. The news that the Central assistance is restricted to a one-time grant has come as a major disappointment for all concerned.

The matter came up for discussion at a high-level meeting convened by Health Minister P.K. Sreemathy on Tuesday, to discuss the development issues at the MCH. Varkala Radhakrishnan and Pannian Ravindran, MPs, were vociferous in expressing their dissatisfaction about the new turn of events.

The announcement that the MCH would be upgraded to the level of the AIIMS had given rise to hopes that the institution would be taken over by the Centre, which would have ensured the future development of the institution.

It has been proposed that a delegation from the State should take up the issue with the Centre. The meeting was attended by the Law Minister M. Vijayakumar, Health Secretary Viswas Mehta, the Director of Medical Education, the District Collector, the Mayor, MLA V. Sivankutty, the MCH Principal, Superintendent, among others.