Centre, Punjab row over Sangrur hospital

Chandigarh, Oct 9 (IANS): Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal Wednesday shot off a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh complaining that he was not invited for the foundation stone laying ceremony of a hospital in Sangrur district.

The hospital will serve as a satellite centre of the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) at Chandigarh. Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad is scheduled to lay the foundation stone of the hospital on Thursday (Oct 10).

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi is expected to be present at the event, and will also address a public rally at Sangrur later.

The Congress leadership in Punjab is projecting the ceremony as an all-Congress affair.

Objecting that the state government was left out in the cold, Badal, in his letter to the prime minister, said this was a "violation of the federal system".

"I have protested this unwarranted move of the centre by writing a letter to the prime minister. This step is unfortunate," Badal told reporters in Jalandhar, 160 km from here, Wednesday.

Badal pointed out that the 25 acres for the proposed hospital in Sangrur, 130 km from here, had been given by the Punjab government.

Clearly upset, Badal said he had "personally pursued this project and the state government had given 25 acres of land free of cost".

The satellite centre, with a 300-bed teaching hospital, will cater to the cancer-prone agriculturally fertile Malwa belt in Punjab (south of Sutlej river).

The Punjab government calls the proposed hospital a cancer hospital.

Accusing the central government and the national leadership of the Congress of "myopic outlook and narrow mindset", Badal said he had not been invited to the ceremony because of the "vested interests" of certain leaders.

"It does not behove such leadership to stoop so low, indulging in politicking over projects related to the prosperity and welfare of the general public," Badal said.

The chief minister said Punjab Congress leaders were out to create obstacles to development and welfare and claim credit for the efforts of the Punjab government.

"Congress leaders are not only blocking the grants from the centre but also issuing dictatorial orders to ban leaders from meeting us, even at social functions," Badal, who is chief minister of the state for a record fifth time, said.

Akali Dal spokesman Daljit Singh Cheema accused the Congress of "making a mockery of the democratic system of the country".

Terming it an "unethical move", Cheema said: "This is happening for the first time in the history of the country when the central government is initiating a project on land provided by the state government for the welfare of the public, but has totally ignored the state government while organising the function for the project."


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Title: Centre, Punjab row over Sangrur hospital

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