J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti would be "personally monitoring" progress on installation of a PET Scan equipment and timely completion of State Cancer Institute at SK Institute of Medical Sciences here, sources told Greater Kashmir on Sunday.
"There is already delay in completion of both the projects. Now, the Chief Minister would be personally monitoring construction of the State Cancer Institute as well as installation of the PET Scan," the sources disclosed, days after this newspaper highlighted the issue in a series of news reports.
"The Chief Minister's Office would be getting regular updates on both the projects from the SKIMS authorities," the sources said.
After Greater Kashmir exposed fiasco within SKIMS that was delaying availability of PET Scan for thousands of cancer patients in Kashmir—even after the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board's nod for the equipment—the Chief Minister has decided to step in and ensure that these projects are in place shortly, the sources said.
Sources said the Chief Minister would also be supervising construction of State Cancer Institute coming up at SKIMS at Rs 120 crore and ensure its timely completion. The SCI was granted to SKIMS in 2014 under a central scheme National Program for Prevention and Control of Cancer Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease, and Stroke (NPCDCS), but the construction has not progressed much in the past two years.
Recently, at the Annual Day celebrations of SKIMS, the CM directed the SKIMS administration to 'clear the confusion' regarding the PET Scan and see to it that it is installed at the earliest.
"Our people go through immense difficulties. There should be no arguments about it," she had said.
Earlier, at a Governing Body meeting of SKIMS, the Chief Minister had directed Commissioner/Secretary Health and Medical Education to take up the matter of PET Scan installation with the AERB authorities.
The SKIMS in 2012 cleared purchase of the PET Scan equipment and soon finalized a site adjacent to Nuclear Medicine department for its installation. A part of infrastructure belonging to Department of Gastroenterology was also dismantled for creating bunkers for the equipment. The site had been approved by AERB, the only central regulatory authority for radiation safety in India.
Subsequently, Minister of Health and Medical Education Bali Bhagat in June this year assured members of Legislative Assembly that the facility would be set up in four months and that the equipment had been commissioned. However, no progress was made in the past six months.
Currently, there is no PET Scan facility available in the state and patients are forced to get this test, that can detect cancer at earlier stages, done from outside the state—a compulsion that costs them lakhs of rupees.
In government-run institutes, this facility could be made available for as low as Rs 10,000.