About 28 km northwest of Assam’s capital Dispur is Changsari in Kamrup district of the State. The place is witnessing a spurt of development activities in recent years, but no other physical construct will be as important to the town as the recently built All India Institute of Medical Science, the first AIIMS anywhere in North East India, inaugurated on April 14 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Coincidentally, the name Changsari is derived from the Tai-Ahom word meaning Chang (expert) Sa (good) and Ri (make), that is, an expert who nurtures a sick person back to health! In the Ahom era, it was a village of doctors, Changkakati and Baruah.
The opening of the hospital has triggered a wave of jubilation in the area for obvious reasons. “We did not get AIIMS on a platter. We had to struggle for it for over nine years”, Madan Deka, president of AIIMS Nirman Sahayak Committee told Asom Barta
“We had to fight an almost four-year-long legal battle for AIIMS’s present site selection at Changsari. It started in early 2014 and ended in November 2017. Former Union Minister and Guwahati Lok Sabha MP Bijoya Chakrabarty, former MP Ramen Deka and the then State Health Minister and present Chief Minister of Assam Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma were support pillars for us,” informed Deka.
“We have high hopes that this AIIMS will bring a transformation in the health care sector in the State,” he told this reporter.
The locals are thanking the Assam Chief Minister, who is also their MLA. Basanta Sarania, assistant general secretary of the AIIMS Nirman Sahayok Committee, appreciated the role of Dr. Sarma, the then Health Minister in the State, in convincing the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to set up AIIMS in Changsari.
The locals are also reaping the rewards of having a major health institution in their area.
“We have seen significant development around greater Changsari. With AIIMS beginning its operation, infrastructure and business activities within a radius of 5 km of the institute has picked up sharply,” said Kushal Ch Das, a native of the area.
Abul Kalam (38), a resident of Purabi Nagar, adjacent to AIIMS, informed this newsletter that the price of land in the area has gone up several folds in recent years.
“We have information that many business houses have bought land on both sides of the four-lane highway. Prices of agricultural land which was ₹ 15,000 per katha till about four years ago is now ₹ 30- 32 lakh per katha. You can imagine the kind of development that is in the offing in the area,” Kalam told this reporter.
Azizul Amin (48), a grocery seller in Dhopatary Bazar, confided to this reporter that not only his income, but those of other retailers in the area has gone northwards since construction of the AIIMS began. “My income from this grocery shop has seen a seven-eight times growth. I know that others, too, are doing well,” he said.
Dr. Ashok Puranik, Executive Director, AIIMS, told this reporter that it was established with a three-pronged objective in mind: i) As a state-of-the-art patient care institute, (ii) High quality medical education and (iii) cutting-edge research.
He said that the patient care services started via telemedicine from August 2022 and limited OPD for locals started from September 2022. “Most of the clinical departments are functional. Average OPDS footfall at AIIMS Guwahati is around 150 patients per day,” Dr Puranik said.