Belying Harsimrat’s claim, green clearance for AIIMS in Bathinda came before ground-breaking ceremony
The project is a bone of contention between Harsimrat and her estranged brother-in-law and Bathinda rural MLA Manpreet Singh Badal, who is the state finance minister
Notwithstanding the claim of Union food processing industries minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, the Punjab government had granted environmental clearance to the proposed All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), on the Bathinda-Dabwali road, before she laid the foundation stone of the project last Friday.
Harsimrat, who is the MP from Bathinda, had performed the ground-breaking ceremony, accusing the Amarinder Singh-led Congress government of delaying the environmental nod. However, the State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), had, on August 23, a day before the inauguration, given clearance to the project.
The authority had written a letter to HLL Infratech Services Limited (HITES) deputy vice-president Yogesh Kumar Sharma granting its nod.
HITES, the executing agency for the project, is a 100% subsidiary of HLL Lifecare Limited, a mini-ratna public sector undertaking, under the Union ministry of health and family welfare.
“A meeting of the State Environment Assessment Committee (SEAC) held on August 20 observed that the project proponent had provided adequate and satisfactory clarifications of the observations raised by it.
Therefore, the committee awarded “silver grading” to the project proposal.
The authority looked into all aspects of the project proposal in detail and was satisfied with the same,” reads the letter.
Bone of contention
The prestigious medical institute project is a bone of contention between Harsimrat and her estranged brother-in-law and Bathinda urban MLA Manpreet Singh Badal, who is the state finance minister.
The two leaders have been engaged in a verbal duel over clearances for the past several months, blaming each other for delays in construction. While Harsimrat had accused the state government, particularly Manpreet, of intentionally delaying the project, the latter termed her charge as “politically motivated” as it was a project funded entirely by the Centre.
In her speech on Friday, Harsimrat had also said the state government had not granted environmental nod.
“The construction has been started without it as we cannot wait for clearance,” she said, challenging Manpreet to show the clearance.
Despite the Central minister’s claim, HITES assistant project engineer, Bathinda AIIMS, Lovepreet Singh said the ground-breaking ceremony was scheduled only after the environmental clearance was granted on August 23, which they had received the same day.