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Guj to privatise civil hospitals, beginning with Palanpur

Written by: Staff

Ahmedabad, Apr 4 (UNI) In a major effort to upgrade medical services and provide effective health cover to the people, the Gujarat government has decided to privatise civil hospitals in the State.

The State goverment is in talks with pharma major Wockhardt to manage the Palanpur civil hospital and an agreement is expected to follow soon.

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi today told a gathering of top business leaders here that his proposal was accepted by Wockhardt group Chairman H F Khorakiwala, with whom he had gone to meet the latter's father at Palanapur yesterday.

He said it is a new model and the State is open to entering into more such deals for other government hospitals. He said he would like some corporate houses to take over civil hospital at Bhuj, reconstructed after the earthquake.

In an interactive session with national executive members of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) here, Mr Modi also accepted suggestions for industry-academic alliance in medical education, especially in the field of stress management and ayurveda.

Mr Modi said stress management is another field with jobs waiting for experts and there is immense scope for linking it to yoga. He said Gujarat Ayurveda University at Jamnagar is 40-yr-old and students from 30 countries are pursuing studies there.

The Chief Minister listed the areas of participation between the public and private sectors down to health check-up scheme of 1.20 crore school children in the State and bearing the cost of medical treatment of 700-800 terminally ill children.

To a number of questions on medical tourism, Mr Modi said Gujarat is observing 2006 as 'Year of Tourism' and the State would be too happy to provide facilities, not exactly concessions, to entrepreneurs. He said Gujarat's greatest challenge is scarcity of water and the biggest strength is coastline, and the effort is to convert the two into opportunity -- in the form of small check dams to Rs 50,000 crore Kalpsar Project, as well as port-linked special economic zones (SEZs).

He attributed the succes of the State's income from agriculture sector trebling from Rs 9,000 crore to Rs 28,000 crore in the last three years to water conservation methods adopted.

Replying to a volley of questions, he asked FICCI leaders to take up the issues which are still lying at the Centre. Gujarat's GSPL intends to provide gas to industrial, commercial and domestic consumers, but the Centre is not allowing pipeline even on common carrier principle, he said.

He, however, exuded confidence that Gujarat gas finds in Krishna-Godavari offshore would start commercial production by 2008, while Reliance has reportedly deferred its work.

Listing other anomalies in the Centre-State relations, he pointed out that Western Railway headquarters is in Mumbai while Gujarat brings 90 per cent of the revenue. The Railway Ministry is not allowing enough wagons to carry salt from Gujarat to other States, Mr Modi pointed out.

He admitted that the cost of electricity in Gujarat is higher, but said it is not alloted enough gas to fuel gas-fired power plants. The Centre has recently withdrawn its share of 200 MW of power, meant for Gujarat, to Maharashtra.

FICCI President Saroj Kumar Poddar, on his part, also agreed to Mr Modi's suggestion to set up sector-specific committees at the apex chamber, to take up the hurdles with the Central Government.


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