Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad has given an assurance that the development of the Mental Health Centre (MHC) at Peroorkada, the oldest health care institution in the State, will be taken up under the Twelfth Plan.

Mr. Azad was taken on an unscheduled visit to the centre late in the evening on Wednesday at the initiative of Shashi Tharoor, MP. Despite a tight schedule, Mr. Azad was persuaded to visit the MHC on Wednesday itself after Dr. Tharoor, at the inaugural ceremony of the development projects of Medical College in the morning, made no bones about his disappointment that a Central government grant to develop the mental health care institution in his constituency had been “diverted” by the State government last year to Kozhikode.

There was a power failure inside the hospital when Mr. Azad was ushered in and though the generator was switched on, much of the campus remained dark.

“Mr. Azad was fully convinced that infrastructural development was imperative for the hospital and he has given a commitment that the issues of lack of modern infrastructure and shortage of staff, including doctors, nurses and paramedics, would be addressed soon,” according to hospital sources.

The Union Minister also asked HLL Lifecare Ltd to submit a proposal for a modern 500-bed hospital facility for the MHC.

In 2009, the Centre had sanctioned a Rs.30-crore scheme for setting up a Centre of Excellence to the Department of Psychiatry at the Medical College Hospital. As the department was utilising the facilities of the MHC also for providing clinical services, this scheme, intended for manpower development in the field of psychiatry, was expected to aid the development of both the MHC and the psychiatry department.

However, the scheme was later awarded to the Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences at Kozhikode, at the insistence of the State government. The MPs of Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode had locked horns over the issue.

“We are hoping to revive the proposal for taking up the development of the Medical College Psychiatry Department and the MHC together because one is primarily a teaching institution and the other can offer excellent facilities for clinical services,” sources at Dr. Tharoor's office said.