AIIMS Jammu to face cost, time overrun as critical issues ignored during site selection

Only 40% land acquired, handed over to construction agency

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, July 28: The cost of much-talked about All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Project of Jammu will increase enormously as compared to already announced one as several critical issues were completely ignored at the time of site selection and only whims of the politicians were given consideration. Moreover, uncertainty is still looming over start of work as only 40% of the land has been acquired and handed over to the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) till date.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that when the exercise for identification of site for establishment of AIIMS in Jammu was started the concerned authorities of the State Government, on the instructions of certain politicians, projected only Vijaypur as the most suitable place despite the fact that better options were available in other parts of Jammu.
The visiting Central teams were given an impression that entire identified land at Vijaypur was free from any cumbrance and there would not be any major problem in acquisition of land within shortest possible time. “But, the facts are totally contrary to the stand taken by the concerned authorities of the State”, sources said.
In the month of August last year, the then Chief Engineer CPWD (NZ-V) A K Garg along with a team of officers inspected the site at Vijaypur and furnished detailed report to the Director General, CPWD vide Letter No.23(123)/ SE(P)/ EE(P)/ NZ-VI-07 dated August 12, 2016 pointing out several critical issues vis-à-vis identified land.
“The site is approximately three meter down on both sides of National Highway and huge earth filling shall be required. Moreover, most of the proposed site is located in the water way/flood plain of river Devak and hence extensive river training works shall be required”, read the letter, the copy of which is available with EXCELSIOR.
In the communication, the Chief Engineer mentioned that International Border with Pakistan is only 4 kilometers from National Highway at this location hence the site may be examined from strategic point of view by appropriate authority.
“There is an encroachment by a large number of families and cremation ground and this may be difficult to remove. Moreover, since the site is located on both sides of National Highway some sort of connectivity will be required either in the form of under pass or some elevated structure to connect both the campuses”, the letter further reads.
Keeping in view these reasons, the Chief Engineer had stressed that it will be better if some other suitable site is chosen. However, all these critical issues have remained unaddressed till date.
“In view of reluctance of the Government to identify some other suitable site we will have to carry out construction work at this site only”, a senior officer of CPWD said, adding “in order to address the critical issues we will have to carry additional and huge works so as to ensure that campuses of the AIIMS are protected from flash floods and there is better connectivity between two campuses”.
“Without carrying out additional works in the shape of river training and under passes/over passes threat of damages due to flash floods in Devak river during rainy reason will always loom large over the AIIMS”, he said in response to a question, adding “due to this not only the cost of the project will go up considerably but the completion period will also get stretched”.
When asked about land acquired and handed over to CPWD for start of construction work, he, while pleading anonymity, said, “only 40% land has been acquired so far and no time-frame has been conveyed for completion of land acquisition proceedings in respect of remaining 60% land”, adding “encroachment on huge chunk of land still remains a major issue”.
“We will start construction work on large scale only when entire identified land is handed over to us”, he made it clear while responding to another question.
All this indicates that the statements of the Ministers of the PDP-BJP Coalition Government claiming that AIIMS at Vijaypur will come up within the scheduled time-frame are only aimed at misleading the people especially in view of the critical issues remaining unaddressed and delay in acquisition of land, sources said.