After a more than two-year delay, chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda finally laid the foundation stone of the Rs 650-crore Kalpana Chawla Government Medical College here on Sunday afternoon.
In 2010, Hooda had announced the medical college in the memory of the Karnal-born astronaut, who along with six other astronauts, was killed in the NASA's Columbia space shuttle crash on February 1, 2003. The project was held up due to bureaucratic hurdles.
On Sunday, the CM lauded Chawala for bringing laurels to her hometown, Karnal, where she had studied up to Class 12: "The medical college is a befitting tribute to Kalpana. She had brought laurels to her hometown by becoming the first Indian woman to be selected by NASA for its space mission."
The CM said Hospital Services Consultancy Corporation, a Centre government undertaking, would complete the medical college, which would cater to north Haryana, in 25 months. The function was also attended by Kalpana's father, Banarasi Das Chawla, who was among those on the VVIP podium. But, the team of politicians and bureaucrats at the function chose to ignore him.
The CM's speech had political overtones. Hooda took digs at ex-CMs Bhajan Lal of the Congress and OP Chautala of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD). The CM said he believed in not naming public institutes after his relatives. "Bhajan Lal established a university in his hometown, Hisar, and dedicated it to his guru Jambeshwar, while Chautala preferred a public university in Sirsa after his father, Chaudhary Devi Lal. But I have not named any institute, established after 2005, in the memory of my ancestors," he said.
The medical college will be built on 43 acres of land, comprising the existing civil hospital, police lines and land owned by the prisons department. On the occasion, the Lok Sabha member from Karnal, Arvind Sharma, credited the people of Karnal for the establishment of the medical college. "Karnal fought a long battle for it," he said.