Many of Bharatiya Janata Party’s members and supporters have been circulating a list on social media claiming that most of the All India Institute of Medical Science hospitals in the country were built during Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s regime.
This is misleading because although six AIIMS were announced by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led BJP government, they were established during the time of the United Progressive Alliance government.
Among the many who shared this claim was Nand Kishore Yadav, cabinet minister for road construction in Bihar. His infographic post showed that PM Modi had built 15 AIIMS hospitals in seven years.
A similar claim highlighting the infrastructural growth of AIIMS hospitals across the country was made by the Prime Minister in October 2020 and FactChecker had then too found that his claim was just “partly true” in an article titled “FactChecking PM Modi’s Claims On Setting Up New IITs, IIMs, AIIMS”.
Who built what?
The first AIIMS was set up in 1956 in Delhi under the All India Institute Medical Sciences Act, 1956 and was formed under the leadership of India’s first health minister Amrit Kaur. From 1956 to 2003 (47 years) there was no announcement or construction of AIIMS hospitals.
In 2003, the National Democratic Alliance government announced the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana scheme with the primary objective of “correcting the imbalances of availability of affordable/reliable tertiary level healthcare in the country”.
On August 15, 2003, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, in his Independence Day speech said, “I know what people in under-developed states have to suffer due to the lack of good hospital services there. Therefore, under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana, six new hospitals with modern facilities, like those available at AIIMS in Delhi, will be established in backward states in the next three years.”
However, the National Democratic Alliance government lasted only nine months after the announcement, after which the UPA government came to power in 2004. Although the setting up of six new AIIMS was announced and sanctioned during the NDA government’s time, these hospitals were built during the UPA’s regime.
After the UPA came to power, the PMSSY scheme was approved and launched by the Union Cabinet only in 2006. Subsequently, six new AIIMS, under the PMSSY scheme were set up in Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Jodhpur, Patna, Raipur and Rishikesh.
When the BJP-led NDA government came to power in 2014, it announced four new AIIMS, seven more in 2015 and then two more in 2017.
However, according to a FactChecker analysis in June 2018, only 3% of sanctioned funds were released to build 11 new AIIMS. Further, a 2018 report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India revealed that the shortage of faculty posts ranged from 55% to 83% in the six new AIIMS and the shortage of non-faculty posts ranged from 77% to 97%. The report even read that, “1,318 equipment having an estimated cost of Rs 454 crore remained undelivered as on March 31, 2017, for periods up to 25 months from the due date of delivery.”
Since the BJP-led NDA government came to power in 2014, the opening up of 15 new AIIMS were sanctioned under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana scheme. However, as of April 2021, only seven AIIMS are fully functional. This includes the first AIIMS established in 1956 and the six new AIIMS under Phase 1.
In all, 22 AIIMS have been sanctioned to be set up under PMSSY. Of the eight phases that were planned, only one phase is fully operational while the remaining seven phases, ie 16 AIIMS are still under various stages of construction.
The timelines for completion of the remaining 16 phases are between December 2020 to January 2025.
This article first appeared on FactChecker.in, a publication of the data-driven and public-interest journalism non-profit IndiaSpend.