K. Balchand

NEW DELHI: The Union Railway Ministry and the Health Ministry are looking at the possibility of setting up health-related institutions and infrastructure at over 600 locations across the country on vacant land available with the Railways.

Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee and Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad discussed the issue on Monday and outlined a blueprint for effective and innovative use of railway land by setting up various tiers of health care facilities and colleges. The moving spirit behind the idea — chairman of the Railway Standing Committee on ICT Sam Pitroda — was also present on the occasion.

Agreeing in principle to jointly work on the project, the two Ministers will set up a committee that will submit a report within a week and sign a Memorandum of Understanding within a fortnight about the kind of institution and infrastructure to be put up on the land available around 600 railway junctions.

While the Railways will provide the land, the responsibility of setting up the feasible health institution will be that of the Health Ministry. The thrust is on providing tertiary care to the rural population by setting up diagnostic centres which will also prove handy to passengers needing urgent attention. Apart from lab testing services, these centres will be endowed with indoor amenities.

Super speciality hospitals will be set up at locations where the stretch of unutilised land is large enough for the purpose.

The Health Ministry has also agreed to establish medical colleges at major hospitals run by the Railways.

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