While scores of under construction hospital projects in J&K are facing years of delay in completion due to non-availability of funds, resulting in cost escalation, the state government has swung into the mode of announcing new health facilities.
Sources told Greater Kashmir that in the coming few months the government is planning to lay foundation stones of a number of new healthcare institutes. However, many hospital projects which had been started years ago, in some cases more than a decade ago, are still far off from completion.
As per documents accessed by Greater Kashmir, project costs for creation and up gradation of many hospital projects have more than doubled in past few years, costing the state exchequer hundreds of crores.
Documents reveal that at least four district hospitals have suffered delay, resulting in their estimated project costs shooting up to more than double. Up gradation/expansion of DH Anantnag, Kulgam, Ganderbal and Baramulla have been going on for years. The estimated cost of these four hospitals has resulted in a cost escalation amounting to Rs 106.2 crores, as per the documents.
Pertinently, two of these district hospitals, DH Baramulla and DH Kulgam had been taken up for up gradation in 1995 and 1997 respectively.
Since the initiation of the work on these projects, the construction works have been carried out in bits and pieces. Sources in health department said that these hospitals had been left in lurch and over the years, successive governments have only been announcing new hospitals without paying any attention to the need for completion of the incomplete projects.
"Instead of addressing and completing these constructions left halfway, the state government has continued with the trend of starting new projects in healthcare sector," a senior official in the health department said.
Sources said as was the case with the pending projects, there was no definite plan with the government to fund the new hospital projects. "Most of the times the government banks on the central assistance for such projects. Same is the case this time as well," a senior health administrator said.
He said besides the authorities were expecting to get a share from the Prime Minister's developmental package for J&K to have these projects completed in addition to a few central schemes. "Although there seems to be assurance of funds from these sources presently, but these should fructify," the administrator said.
The peripheral hospitals are not the only in situations that have suffered delay due to paucity of funds. Many tertiary care health institutes that have been going on for years have missed deadline after deadline. The Pediatric Hospital in Srinagar has not been able to come-up even after decades of announcement and a number of successive governments' assurances.
Recently, government initiated a number of health initiatives – 100-bedded hospital at Kotbalwal, 50-bedded Maternal and Child Hospital at Kulgam and trauma centers along the highway.