Despite being in power for long fifteen years with not much to show for when it comes to proper medical care in Bihar, Nitish Kumar, for the umpteenth time, laid the foundation stone of the conversion of Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH), into – brace yourself – world’s largest top-notch hospital with 5,462 beds to be built at the cost of Rs. 5,540-crore.

Talking to the reporters, Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey said that the hospital, once considered the best hospital east of England, will consist of 5,462 beds out of which 939 will be reserved for ICU, 610 for the pediatrics department, 552 for general surgery and 478 for general medicine.

Expected to be completed in five years, the new PMCH will be the largest hospital in the world only after the one in Taiwan that currently boasts of 10,000 beds, Pandey, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, said.

Kumar’s obsession with building super-specialty healthcare centers is not new. In the last 15 years, he has laid the foundation stone of many such imaginary hospitals in Bihar in his hope to turn the state into a healthcare Mecca with ‘Medical Tourism’ as one of the cornerstones of state’s economy. Most never took off beyond the foundation stone; some that did either was abandoned half way through the project for one reason or another and some that did somewhat finish were nowhere near the hoopla or the picture he had projected.

As noted, even after fifteen years, politicians and rich people alike in Bihar, rush to Delhi, Mumbai, or Bengaluru hospitals for the slightest health concerns since Bihar, despite the government’s high claims, does not have a single hospital capable of treating serious health problems. There is the Mahavir Cancer Sansthan in Patna but no thanks to the Nitish or any other government for its existence.

Incidentally, Rs. 5540-crore translates to roughly 8-billion US dollars. According to one source, on an average, to build a world-class hospital in the USA currently costs anywhere from $112 million to $210 million though there are some hospitals that were built at the cost of nearly a billion dollar.

One can only hope that this time Kumar is serious about rebuilding this once prestigious hospital and is not just blowing smoke as he has done many times in the past.