Bottlenecks put brakes on Kashmir AIIMS

Work on the AIIMS-type health institute in Kashmir has been halted owing to failure of the state government resolve issues related to the land for the projects and complete other requisite formalities.

An official in Health and Medical Education Department said the civil work at the project site in Awantipora have been completely stopped three months ago.

He said primary reason was land litigation which the government “wasn’t following seriously”. During the last project review meeting, the government had decided that state advocate general would be roped in to ensure there was no issue in taking the work forward, said the officila.

“But there has been no follow up on the proposal,” the official said.

Another official associated with the project said the state has also failed to take up work on access road leading to the project site.

Last year, owing to paucity of funds, the Government had approached central authorities for funding under Central Roads Scheme Fund for the access road.

Subsequently the project (access road from national highway (1) to the AIIMS site) was resubmitted to the union ministry of road, transport and highway recently, the official said.

“This road is vital for transport of construction material to the site and in its absence the work has suffered in the past too,” said the official.

Besides, there has been “very little progress” on construction of power grid station and water pump house, which are part of the AIIMS project, during the past one year, said the official.

He said authorities have now decided to take up the grid station under languishing projects, while as the site for the pump house was yet to be identified.

Owing to the delay the official feared that the 2024 deadline for completion of the AIIMS may not be met.

“It has been nearly four years since the project was approved but there is no significant progress on overall work,” the official said.

He said it was necessary that various government departments put their act together to ensure removal of all bottlenecks in completion of the project.

“That is not happening and is a major cause of delay in execution of the works,” he said, adding there was also lack of coordination between multiple agencies involved in the project.

Financial commissioner health and medical education Atal Dulloo acknowledged that litigations have delayed the construction work.

“We are working towards removing the bottlenecks as per the law. There is no dearth of funds to compensate the land owners,” he said, adding there was a court stay on use of “some 300 kanals” of land at the project site.

Dulloo said work for completion of other related works have already been approved. He said the master plan was being finalised by CPWD, the central agency entrusted with the project. “Once the plan is approved, the work is expected to get expedited,” he said.