Tuesday, April 18, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Land sale to benefit hospital?
Tribune News Service

AMRITSAR, April 17 — A powerful land mafia is said to be behind the move to sell 80 acres of prime land of Dr Vidya Sagar Mental Hospital. The state government has initiated a move to shift the hospital and sell its land to improve its finances.

The decision of government has evoked strong protests with leaders of various political parties threatening to launch an agitation against the sale. They alleged that the land of hospital was being fold with a view to give passage to 22 acres of land of a close relative of the Chief Minister, which would make its value shoot up several sold. Other land-holders of the area would also benefit from the commercialisation.

As part of a preliminary survey, Mr V.K. Verma, Health and Family Welfare Secretary, held a meeting with district officials on April 12.

Veteran CPI leader Mr Satyapaul Dang and Mrs Vimla Dang, a former MLA, alleged that they had confirmed reports that the hospital was being shifted to a village in Amritsar district or the building of the old jail of Ludhiana. They claimed Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister was taking a personal interest in selling the land.

Interestingly Mr Badal was present in Amritsar when Mr Verma held a meeting of district level officials to finalise the plan. As per the plan, the Hospital land would be sold to Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) for development as prime commercial and residential colonies.

While this would fetch crores of rupees which can be utilised for a modern mental hospital it would also benefit landholders of the area and the CM’s relatives in particular.

Dr Vidya Sagar Mental Hospital has been functioning for about half a century from the present site and caters to Punjab, Haryana, Himachal and the union territory of Chandigarh.

Ruling party MLA Mrs Lax Kanta Chawla also condemned the move of the state government to dispose off prime land of the hospital. She too claimed the move was intended to benefit some “VVIPs”.

Mr Ranghunandan Lal Bhatia, Members of Parliament who sanctioned Rs 10 lakh from his MP area development fund for the hospital just recently said the Congress would strongly oppose any move to dispose off the prime land.

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