New Delhi: Congress on Tuesday sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi's intervention for sanctioning an additional AIIMS for Jammu region so that the agitation for setting up the facility ends and the issue is resolved in an "amicable, equitable and just manner".
Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad wrote a letter to the Prime Minister drawing his attention to the ongoing agitation which has thrown life out of gear in Jammu and its vicinity.
"While acknowledging the merit and importance of AIIMS for Kashmir region, one has to appreciate the fact that a large population of almost all the districts of the state migrates temporarily to Jammu in winters and that brings the health care system of Jammu, especially the tertiary care, under tremendous strain," Azad's letter said.
Jammu, the winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir, has been witnessing a shut down for the last four days now over the demand for an AIIMS there after the government announced in the budget this year that the facility will be set up in the Kashmir region.
The agitation is being spearheaded by AIIMS Coordination Committee comprising organisations cutting across party lines.
"I would, therefore, once again request your kind indulgence for granting sanction to one additional AIIMS for Jammu so that there remains no room for speculation and the issue is resolved in an amicable, equitable and just manner," the senior Congress leader said in his letter to the Prime Minister.
Azad, a former chief minister of the state, had also requested for setting up an additional AIIMS in Jammu in April this year, giving a perspective of why the demand of having a separate unit of the prestigious institute there is genuine and based on merit.
Azad reiterated the strategic importance of the state, which shares borders with Pakistan and China, besides extreme weather conditions that prevail which prohibit free movement of people from one region to another through the year.
He said it has been a practice with successive governments to give equitable treatment to the two regions of the state in terms of creation of infrastructure or establishment of new institutions.
Azad drew Modi's attention to restiveness in 2003-04 after the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had agreed to upgrading a government hospital in Jammu region.
"The project remained a non-starter for a quite a long period. It was only when I was Chief Minister of the state, in 2006, I requested the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to sanction one additional project of upgradation of government medical college in Srinagar," he said.
He also pointed out that UPA government had set aside the norm of granting one cancer institute per state and sanctioned one each for the Kashmir and Jammu regions.
Besides, he said, the government also approved two central universities for Jammu and Kashmir, one each for both the regions.
Presenting the budget for 2015-16, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had announced that the government has allocated Rs 33,150 crore for setting up AIIMS in five states including one in Kashmir region.