After Rs.14 lakh helipad wastage, PM visit to shut hospital gates

Chandigarh, Sep 12 (IANS) First an over-zealous administration wasted Rs.14 lakh to build a new helipad which will not be used by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his visit here Saturday. Now, authorities have ordered the closure of the main gates of two leading public hospitals during the visit.

The prime minister, who is arriving here Saturday (Sep 14), will hand over keys of 8,448 flats under the city's slum rehabilitation scheme.

Officials of the Chandigarh Administration built a new helipad at Sarangpur to facilitate the movement of the prime minister from the Chandigarh airport, where he will be landing after flying from New Delhi, to the site of the flats scheme.

The prime minister's office (PMO) however Wednesday rejected the plan to take the prime minister from the airport to the flats site by an Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopter.

The PMO said that he will, instead go by road to the site. The distance between the two places is nearly 20 km and passes through some of the busiest areas of the city.

"No one took permission for the helipad from the PMO before it was built. The money (Rs.14 lakh) has gone waste," a source in the administration said.

The city and its residents are already gearing up to bear the brunt of the VVIP visit, especially the cordoning off of major roads twice when the prime minister moves from the airport to the site and back Saturday.

The local authorities have also ordered the closure of the main gates of two leading public hospitals, the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) and the Government Multi-Specialty Hospital (GMSH), Sector 16, during the visit.

While the GMSH gate will remain closed from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the PGIMER gate will remain closed from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Police sources said that traffic will be stopped along the 20-km route for over 30 minutes when the prime minister moves.

The prime minister's visit to the city November 2011 had drawn criticism when a vehicle carrying a critical patient was caught in a traffic jam near the PGIMER due to the VVIP visit and the 32-year-old patient died for want of timely treatment.

Security personnel kept sending the vehicle from one gate of the PGIMER to another as the prime minister was attending a function at the institute.

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