I happened to visit both the places , Changsari and Raha the two locations appearing in news media on the dispute of the suitability and preference for setting up of an AIIMS.
These are two nondescript places inhabited by poor villagers. Both the places are besides national highways and train stations. Changsari is within thirty kms from the boundary of Guwahati while Raha is under hundred kms.
Both are historically significant places having remnants of military structures of middle ages. The series of Ahom-Mughal battles perhaps took place beside Changsari. The ruined structure of the ancient Madan Kamdeva is adjacent to Changsari. Similarly Raha used to be an important “Choki” or military outpost of Ahoms. Also it was the capital of a king called as” Jongalbalahu”. But there is no tourism or tourist infrastructure or even tourism initiatives by anyone in any of these two places.
Following agitations by Raha locals after declaration of Changsari as the proposed AIIMS location, I thought for a while , why not Sonari near Sivasagar or Sisiborgaon near Dhemaji are being considered for AIIMS locations. Sivasagar does not have any major institute of repute and Dhemaji is too under developed. But the constraints looked obvious. Due to underdeveloped connectivity and existing infrastructure it would be very difficult for people of other areas to reach and stay at Sonari or Sisiborgaon. AIIMS which is expected to attract the best talents in Medical Education must have excellent accessibility by all including patients. On this parameter and at this moment with due apologies to friends from Raha, I fee Changsari to be better placed for the AIIMS location.
But not necessarily Changsari, there could be other suitable places for setting up an AIIMS in Assam. Places coming to my mind at the moment are Boko, Hajo, Moran and Chabua. But I think as a responsible citizen I should leave it to the specialists and accept their decision.
Raha AIIMS agitation has already caused heavy damages including loss of life and property. Also nuisance groups are gearing up for similar agitations in various other locations. Emotion and grief are at high levels in Raha at the moment. But perhaps bloodshed for setting up an AIIMS is not the right thing to do. A renowned poet of the same district wrote which in my translation to English would be ” If you want to give blood, donate to blood blank. Let people live”.