Two years after the government took over the possession of Rehmat I Alam hospital from the local Trust and decided to shift the maternity and child hospital (MCH) there from the old, dilapidated and unsafe building housed in congested Sherbagh locality of the old town, the prestigious project is far from completion.
The space crunch is taking a toll on the healthcare of the patients and at times forcing the doctors to unnecessarily refer pregnant ladies and children to Srinagar hospitals.
The Jammu & Kashmir Project Construction Company (JKPCC) officials entrusted with the job of further construction of the hospital near Rehmatabad, KP road, cite paucity of funds, pending safety audit of first two floors of the hospital constructed by the Trust itself and the security forces occupying the building during the ongoing Yatra period as the reason for the delay.
“It is a Rs 12.10 crore project and in these two years the government has only released 3.25 crore which is meagre 25 percent of the total amount,” said an official.
He said had there been a constant flow of funds, the MCH Sher Bagh would have been shifted by now, as proposed by the government.
Initially, the work on the project was delayed due to the tussle between the Housing Board and JKPCC, in view of the authorities issuing allotment letters to both the agencies.
The row was finally resolved and the contract to the housing board which has put the DPR at Rs 8.75 crore was canceled.
“The safety audit of the first two floors of the building which was constructed by the Trust before the government took over has also not been taken up yet,” said an official.
He said the interior work can be taken up only after the safety audit clearance the report is received and the funds are released.
“The work is at halt from last one month as the security forces have occupied the major portion of the building for the Yatra period,” said an official.
However, the health authorities squarely put the blame on JKPCC for the slow pace of the work.
“The concessionaire has been lethargic in carrying out the work,” Director Health Services Kunzes Dolma told Greater Kashmir.
She, however, said that the release of funds was the prerogative of the administrative department.
Deputy General Manager JKPCC, Ghulam Hussain Dar termed the claims of health department as far from truth.
“We have so far utilized around Rs 4 core which is higher than the funds received,” said Dar.
He said that the housing board had done work on the half floor and the rest one and half-floor was completed by JKPCC.
“We have even completed tress and were about to take up the work on the rooftop when the security forces occupied the building,” Dar said.
In February 2017, the then Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti accorded sanction to the taking over of Rehmat-e-Alam Hospital Trust, by the Health & Medical Education Department with all its assets and liabilities.
The government had earlier started the process of taking over in 2015 over the directions of the then Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Syed.
The delay in completion of Rahmat-e-Alam hospital and shifting of MCH there has left both the medicos and the locals fuming.
The old hospital which caters to the entire south Kashmir, as well as Chenab and Pirpanchal valleys, is only 40 bedded with an average of more than 40000 patients in the Out-patient Department (OPD) and about 7000 indoor patients on a monthly basis.
“The hospital lacks proper space and is always overcrowded with even two to three patients sharing a single bed. The beds have been put even in the corridors,” said a doctor posted at MCH.
He said there is no proper ventilation and the building has also been declared unsafe by the fire and emergency department several years ago.
In these hot days you can see the patients sweating in the overcrowded wards,” the doctor said.
He said that even as the hospital is under Government Medical College (GMC) Anantnag now still then the situation is so grim that the doctors are forced to refer the patients which could otherwise be easily treated here.
“This further burdens the tertiary care hospitals of Srinagar.”
The locals now are for shifting of the hospital to the old building of district hospital till the construction work on Rehmat Aalam hospital building is completed.
“The hospital is devoid of proper sanitation and the wards always stink as a result of which there is every likelihood of diseases,” said Sheikh Aadil, a social activist from the town.
He said that Sherbagh where the MCH is located is very much congested with narrow roads and the area witnesses frequent traffic jams.
“The ailing pregnant women and children find it difficult to reach to the hospital in time,” he said, adding this at times becomes the cause of mortalities too.
Sheikh who is also the founding members of local charity trust – Syed U Saadat – said it is a humanitarian issue and the hospital should be shifted to the district hospital for now without further delay.