Madurai: A Right to Information Act (RTI) reply to a query seeking details on the status of All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) in Thoppur, has revealed that the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) if providing nearly 82 per cent of the funds for the project, but no money has been released by the agency so far.
The reply to the RTI query filed by an activist, R Pandiraja, dated November 25, 2022, stated that the percentage of funding by JICA was 82 per cent and funding by the government of India (GoI) was 18 per cent. It also showed that out of the total 1,621 crores funded by JICA, no funds have been released.
Only the Centre has released funds periodically for general, salaries and capital. The RTI query also sought details of funds released for the boundary wall at the AIIMS site in Thoppur but it was replied that the information was not available with the office.
In November, the newly-appointed president of AIIMS, Madurai, Dr V Nagarajan, Director Dr M Hanumantha Rao, and officials from JICA inspected the project site in Thoppur. It was then stated that the JICA officials had come to Madurai to discuss the modalities and fine tune the initial documentation processes to kickstart the construction at the earliest. But, barring a boundary wall at the site, construction work of buildings is yet to commence.
In May 2022, Bharati Pravin Pawar, minister of state for health and family welfare of India, had stated that due to inclusion of a 150-bedded infectious disease block in the project and other additions, the revised estimated cost of the AIIMS project was 1,978 crore, out of which 1,621 crore is to be covered by the JICA loan and balance through budgetary support.
A loan agreement with JICA was signed on March 26, 2021 and the target date of completion was October 2026. It may be recalled that the classes for first year MBBS students who were admitted to Madurai AIIMS, is underway since April 2022 at the temporary campus in Ramanathapuram Government Medical College Hospital.