Construction of AIIMS Madurai started by Larsen & Toubro, 5 years after PM Modi laid foundation stone

The delay in construction of AIIMS after PM Modi laid the foundation stone for the project on January 27, 2019, is a political tool for the ruling DMK and its alliance partners.
Last Updated 05 March 2024, 14:21 IST

Chennai: Five years after Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone, Larsen & Toubro on Tuesday began construction work of the much-delayed All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Madurai.

The delay in construction of the AIIMS after PM Modi laid the foundation stone for the project on January 27, 2019, was a political tool by the ruling DMK and its alliance partners to beat the BJP to drive home their point that the Union Government discriminates against states ruled by Opposition parties.

“The construction of AIIMS has begun today without much fanfare as if it is a secret project. Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) was in Madurai last week, and they (Union Government) could have asked him to launch the work. The nation would have known that there was a gap of five years between laying the foundation stone and the start of actual construction work,” Madurai MP Su Venkatesan said.

To be built in about 33 months, the brand-new campus will have a hospital building spread over an area of 1,08,325 square metres with 870 beds including out-patient department, and Emergency, an Ayush block, teaching block, an auditorium with a seating capacity of 750, conference halls, separate hostels for girls and boys, service block, Director’s bungalow, and residential complexes for professors and other staff.

The total built-up area, excluding site development area, is about 2,00,851 square metres and the campus, will be built at a cost of Rs 1,978 crore with funding from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), will come up in Thoppur, 13 km from Madurai.

Though the construction is yet to start, the medical college of AIIMS, Madurai is temporarily functioning from the Ramanathapuram Government Medical College.

The Union Government has appointed Dr M Hanumantha Rao and Dr Prashant Lavania as the Executive Director and President of the AIIMS, Madurai.

Chief Minister M K Stalin has been citing the delay in construction of AIIMS in several of his speeches by boasting that his government established the Kalaignar Centenary Library and multi-speciality hospital in Chennai within two years of announcing the projects.

AIIMS, Madurai has been a topic of discussion even inside the Parliament for the past few years by Madurai and Virudhunagar MPs - Su Venkatesan, and Manickam Tagore, raising the issue consistently.

In the 2021 elections, non-construction of AIIMS was a major poll issue with DMK youth wing secretary Udhayanidhi Stalin brandishing a red brick in his election campaign and saying that he has “brought” the hospital “along with him”.

His point was that there was no building at the chosen site and all that was left was a brick and he took it with him to “showcase” BJP-AIADMK’s “development politics”.

Thoppur, the village where Tamil Nadu's very own AIIMS will come up, is located on the National Highway connecting Madurai with Kanyakumari.

AIIMS has always been in the news in Tamil Nadu, most times for the wrong reasons. To be fair, it is the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by PM Modi which announced the setting up of the institute in the 2015-16 Union Budget, though Congress leaders claim they initiated the process.

The Centre took time to kick off the process and when things started moving, Tamil Nadu witnessed a political upheaval following J Jayalalithaa's death. In 2017, there was a clamour among ministers and senior leaders of AIADMK to take AIIMS to their area, delaying the process further.

Thanjavur, Tiruchirapalli and other cities were in contention – many associations took out rallies demanding that the institute should come up in their place, but Madurai won finally.

(Published 05 March 2024, 14:21 IST)

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