The construction of the much-hyped All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) at Awantipora in Pulwama district has hit a roadblock as the Indian Army has raised objections over its construction stating that it could comprise a military garrison nearby. The army opposition came up during a recent review meeting chaired by Kashmir divisional commissioner PK Pole, in which the former red-flagged the possible violation of the Works of Defence Act (WODA) in constructing the institute building.
Officials here, however, have termed it a minor issue which could be resolved and would have no impact on the project, which has already begun.
Pulwama deputy commissioner Basir-ul-Haq Choudhry said some issues had come up based on which a joint survey was carried out. Another survey is scheduled next week and after that the construction work would be taken up again.
“It is not a big issue, and can be sorted out during the joint survey. This will not have any impact on the project,” he told HT adding that the work is underway in the other areas where there are no issues.
Two AIIMS were approved by the central government in 2019, one in Jammu and another in Kashmir. The projects were scheduled to be completed by 2025, however, army’s objection could delay the construction of Kashmir’s first premier medical institute.
During the review meeting held by Pole, army had raised serious concerns over the construction of AIIMS building close to army installations in Pulwama district and said the Central Public Works Department was violating WODA rules.
Srinagar-based defence spokesman Lt Col Emron Musavi said that army has been advising AIIMS authorities right from the inception of the project in 2016 that the WODA guidelines have to be honoured for all projects in the vicinity of military establishments.
“The final clearance for all such projects is granted by the defence ministry. It was only in January 2021 that the campus construction plans were shared with the army by CPWD. By then the construction had already begun in violation of WODA,” he said.
He said the divisional commissioner has assured the army that their security concerns will be factored into the construction plans.
“Indian Army, in close coordination with the civil administration, remains committed to extend all assistance to the AIIMS authorities for early execution of the project.”
As per the officials, the master plan and construction of AIIMS in Awantipora had been finalised and is scheduled to be completed by 2025.
Meanwhile, locals said that army’s objections shouldn’t affect the project. “Kashmir does not have good medical infrastructure or a hospital of the standard of AIIMS. The project should be completed on time,” said Showkat Ahmad, who lives close to the area where the AIIMS will come up.
Another local, Abdul Qayoom, opined that army should have sorted out the matter with the authorities much earlier. “Things like approvals and objections usually happen at the beginning. But in this case, army is now raising these issues, which will just delay the work of this much-needed project,” he said.