Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday laid the foundation stone of a multispecialty cancer cure hospital here to cater to the country's northern states on the lines of the Tata Memorial Centre (TMC) for cancer cure in Mumbai.
The 100-bed Homi Bhabha Cancer Hospital and Research Centre, a joint initiative of the TMC and the union department of atomic energy, will come up in four years.
The Prime Minister, in his apolitical speech, thanked Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal for the 50 acres of land for the project, expressing the hope that the state would come up as the nerve-centre in health care as well, after ushering in an era of green revolution that had begun five decades ago.
Punjab governor Shivraj Patil, local MP Ravneet Bittu of the Congress and state health minister Surjit Kumar Jyani were also present on the dais.
Singh also thanked the Mumbai's Tata Memorial Trust for imparting expertise in the cancer cure at other medical colleges and hospitals in Punjab.
The Prime Minister also pointed out that the Centre would come up with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) that would be connected to the country's regional cancer cure centres.
The union cabinet on Thursday had approved the setting up of a 710-bed NCI to come up at Jhajjar in Haryana at a cost of Rs 2,035 crore.
On the occasion, Badal said he envisioned the state as the best cancer treatment destination not only in the country but also across the globe with the upcoming of the Rs 450-crore project.
Badal, who had earlier visited the TMC in Mumbai a few months back to pursue the project, said the state government had already declared a "war against cancer" with efforts to ensure world-class best cancer treatment and diagnostic facilities at affordable rates.
Expressing gratitude to the Prime Minister for taking personal interest in clearing the project, Badal said the project would synergise the Punjab government's efforts to upgrade cancer treatment facilities in the state, especially with the setting up of advanced cancer treatment centres in government medical colleges at Amritsar, Patiala and Faridkot at a cost of Rs 300 crore besides a 100-bed hospital in Bathinda by the TMC.
Badal reiterated the state government's corpus fund of Rs 300 crore for the cashless treatment of cancer patients. This scheme would formally be launched on January 1, 2014 in the 16 empanelled hospitals that included PGI, Chandigarh, all three medical colleges and hospitals in the state, besides 10 private hospitals.
The chief minister also thanked TMC director Dr RA Badwe for his support to the state government in providing the "best cancer treatment available in the country".
He also complimented the department of atomic energy for its keen interest and support to the project.
The chief minister honoured the Prime Minister with a shawl and a memento of an engraved picture of the Golden Temple.
Congress MP Ravneet Bittu, along with party colleague, MLA Jagmohan Kang, was not far behind in presenting a picture of Gurdwara Kesgarh Sahib to the Prime Minister.