By Pradeep Pareek
Dimapur(Nagaland) July 11: The scheduled laying of foundation stone for Nagaland Medical Lodge at Mawdiangdiang, Shillong near the North East Indira Gandhi Regional Institute for Health and Medical Sciences (NEIGRIHMS) could not be held due to strong opposition from locals.
The much awaited foundation stone was to be laid by Meghalaya Chief Minister, Conrad K. Sangma in the presence of Nagaland Chief Minister, Neiphiu Rio and Minister for Public Works Department (PWD), Tongpang Ozukum on Tuesday. Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) was also scheduled to attend today’s event.
Opposition spearheaded by the Khasi Students Union forced the cancelation of the event. While KSU asked the Sangma government to take back a plot of land near the NEIGRIHMS, which had been allotted to the Nagaland government.
The student body asked for a state guest house at the plot for local people who come for treatment at the super-specialty hospital. Placards opposing the Lodge were seen in Shillong.
Meghalaya Government allotted 2.27 acres of land in New Shillong Township near the institute to the Nagaland government a few years ago.
Assessing from the number of patients, it appears that the institute attracts patients from all over the region and even from nearby countries. The students’ body argued that people coming from far flung of Meghalaya face problem as their expenses are doubled and tripled as they are forced to seek accommodation in hotels in Shillong. They also have to commute daily around 12km between Shillong and NEIGRIHMS.
The Union wants Meghalaya government to build a guest house for these patients at the site allotted to Nagaland. It demanded allocation of space near NEIGRIHMS for setting up of lodges or guest houses to accommodate the people of Meghalaya.
Some States have also acquired land to build Medical Guest House in the vicinity of the institute but Nagaland got the prime land just at the entrance of NEIGRIHMS which has become an eye-sore for KSU.
Speeches were supposed to have been delivered by two Chief Ministers and PWD Minister at the foundation laying event.
“The programme for laying of foundation stone for Nagaland Medical Lodge, Mawdiangdiang, Shillong which was to be held on 10th July 2018 has been cancelled due to some unavoidable circumstances,” a release from Nagaland DIPR said.
The proposed Lodge is situated outside the NEIGRIHMS institute and that this has been an eye-sore for a section of local people apparently as they would lose business. Every year thousands of Naga patients opt for treatment at this premier institute for north-eastern states.
Other states, including Nagaland have argued that NEIGRIHMS is for the north-eastern states and not only for Meghalaya and that equal treatment and opportunity should be given to all the states.
Other than fencing of the acquired land, work could not progress due to protest from the Khasi students. State Government is now trying to convince the agitating students to allow the Lodge to come up.
Image : Representational