Fresh promise: AIIMS-Madurai building to be completed by October 2026, Rajya Sabha is told

The tender has now been issued to bidders for the AIIMS building that BJP chief JP Nadda had once claimed 'was 95% complete'.

BySumit Jha

Published Dec 06, 2023 | 4:46 PMUpdatedDec 06, 2023 | 4:46 PM

Fresh promise: AIIMS-Madurai building to be completed by October 2026, Rajya Sabha is told

The construction of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) building in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, will be completed by October 2026, Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Dr Bharati Pawar has said in a reply to the Rajya Sabha.

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA)-led Union government had, in 2015-16, announced the plan to establish an AIIMS in Tamil Nadu.

The minister informed the Upper House that, according to the loan agreement signed with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the targeted date of completion was October 2026.

“Pre-investment activity, including the construction of boundary wall, has been completed for setting up AIIMS in Madurai. Project Management Consultant (PMC) has been appointed. Master plan has been finalised,” she said.

The tender for the main works has been issued to pre-qualified bidders, she added.

MBBS classes for 50 students have been underway in a temporary campus at the Government Medical College, Ramanathapuram, since April 2022. Dr M Hanumantha Rao and Dr Prashant Lavania have been appointed as the Executive Director and President of AIIMS, Madurai, respectively, by the Union Government.

However, among all Union government-run premier medical institutions, AIIMS Madurai has been facing an acute shortage of faculty. Though 183 posts have been sanctioned, the institute has 136 vacancies, resulting in a faculty deficit of 74.3 percent.

Also read: Pinarayi Vijayan urges Centre to set up AIIMS in Kozhikode

The college that doesn’t exist

The ruling DMK and its alliance partners, including the Congress, have often criticised the prolonged delay in the construction of the medical institute at Thoppur, some 13.5 km from Madurai.

Despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi laying the foundation stone on 27 January, 2019, the much-anticipated AIIMS project has faced significant delays. It was only in August this year that the Union government initiated the tendering process for the construction of the building.

The delay has been attributed to various factors, and the project’s funding received a boost with a loan of ₹1,978 crore from JICA. Thoppur is on the Madurai-Kanniyakumari National Highway.

The AIIMS-Madurai issue has been much debated in Parliament. Madurai and Virudhunagar MPs, Su Venkatesan, and Manickam Tagore, respectively, have been raising questions over the delay.

When BJP president JP Nadda claimed in September 2022 that the structure was 95 percent complete, Congress MP Manickam Tagore and CPI(M) MP Su Venkatesan visited the AIIMS site and prepared a “ground report”, revealing the state of the project.

In the 2021 elections, the non-commencement of AIIMS construction emerged as a major talking point.

Udhayanidhi Stalin, the DMK Youth Wing secretary, symbolically highlighted the absence of any building at the designated site by showcasing a red brick during his election campaign.