New Delhi: Though hundreds of cancer patients have been hugging death every year, the state governments seem to be deep in slumber to lend an ear to their plight. Around 18 months back, the centre had approved 65 cancer hospitals in different states, but the project is yet to see the light of the day.

An amount to the tune of Rs 732 crore was to be utilized for these cancer hospitals by March 2012. However, due to the lackadaisical approach of different states, the massive amount is still lying unused. Out of the total projects, the Centre has received only 10 proposals from the states.

Annoyed by the slow progress, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has called a meeting of the state Health Secretaries along with the district Chief Medical Officers (CMO) on Thursday for clarification on the issue.

Under the National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke (NPCDCS), an intensive three-stage programme was to be launched in 100 districts which could have benefited about one lakh cancer patients.

The three-stage system included diagnosing cancer, primary treatment in district hospitals and specialized treatment of the patient at tertiary centres in various areas.

For this, 65 tertiary centres were approved in July, 2010 of which new arrangements were to be introduced in 53 medical colleges for treatment of cancer while strengthening the existing 12 regional cancer centres.

In addition, 1,000 doctors, nurses and technicians were to be provided special training for the purpose. 

At least 25 lakh people in India are estimated to be suffering from cancer.