After many hurdles, including political, the way has finally been paved for setting up the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Jammu.

District authorities of Samba handed over about 245 acres land on Jammu-Pathankot highway to the CPWD which will execute the project.

The handing over ceremony was held on Saturday afternoon after the nearly 280 Gujjar occupants on land earmarked for AIIMS were shifted.

The process took more than three years as the occupants were reluctant to shift out, claiming it was forest land that had been allocated for the project. To make matters worse, the project slipped into limbo when the then Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti ordered the police not to provide security to any department trying to evict nomadic Gujjars from any land under their occupation.

The district authorities of Samba took up the task of evicting the occupants on mission mode in July only after Mehbooba Mufti’s government was toppled.

A need for an institution like AIIMS was long felt in Jammu division as patients from here had no option but to go to either New Delhi or Chandigarh for specialised treatment. A super specialty hospital set up here a few years ago lies virtually defunct for want of doctors.

Deputy Commissioner Samba, Sushma Chauhan, said that on the directions of the state government, the Samba administration was tasked to ensure early start of the work on the prestigious project. The arduous task of clearing the proposed AIIMS site at Vijaypur and rehabilitation of families occupying the land was completed peacefully, she claimed.

She said the task was taken up on mission mode from 20 July 2018. The official said that the challenge before the district administration was that of rehabilitation of the nomadic families.

Some credit has been given to Arun Manhas. After recently being posted as additional deputy commissioner of Samba, he succeeded in taking up a challenging task of peacefully evicting the settlers from the allocated land.

The CPWD, meanwhile, started construction activity for the boundary wall of the project promptly after the land was transferred.