8 years on, Bandipora DH still incomplete

Suhail Bhat
BANDIPORA, Jan 20: It has been eight years since the foundation stone for the construction of District Hospital Bandipora, was laid but authorities have failed to complete the project and missed several deadlines.
As per the official sources, in the past, Jammu and Kashmir Housing Board, the executing agency, has missed three deadlines; two in 2017 and one in 2018. First, the agency was supposed to complete one portion of the hospital till June 2017, later the deadline was extended to September 2017, but it failed to deliver. In 2018, the agency failed to meet the June deadline.
Director Health Kashmir, Kunzes Dolma said that the hospital would be shifted to the new building in the next two-three months as some finishing works are pending. “Pending finishing works are causing the delay. In the next two-three months the hospital will be completely shifted to the new building,” she said, adding the hospital is almost complete.
For the last three years, the construction work has slowed, irking the residents. “The building looks complete but authorities said finishing work is pending. I am unable to understand how much time would it take for them to complete the finishing work,” Bashir Ahmad, a local said.
The residents, however, alleged that despite the completion of construction work of new building the hospital continues to operate from the old, cramped structure due to unknown reasons. “The old building is insufficient to cater to the huge rush of patients that visit the hospital every day. Presently, the doctors see patients in makeshift sheds outside the old building”, Mohammad Hanief, a local from Aloosa area of Bandipora said, adding “there were high chances of infection to patients because the staff has no time to wash their hands or clean equipment adequately”.
Aimed at tackling the issues of overcrowding and space constraints, a new building for the hospital was allotted and work was, subsequently, started in 2010. With an estimated cost of Rs 24.32 crores, the project was handed over to Jammu and Kashmir Housing Board but the hospital continued to operate from the old building despite passing of several years. “The speed of the work is directly proportional to the flow of funds. More than 90 percent of the work is complete despite a liability of nearly Rs 7 crores,” an official said.
The hospital is supposed to cater to the population of over 40 villages of district Bandipora and lack of space forces patients to visit Srinagar, Baramulla and Sopore for medical treatment. “Several patients had died while being shifted to the other centers. The Hospital is overburdened and overcrowded and it takes a lot of time to get treatment here. Most of the times the doctors simply send the patients away without even examining the patients,” Mohammad Jamal, a local said, adding “people who need hospital admission end up lying on the trolleys for hours in the corridor”.
A doctor at the Hospital said, despite being a 30-bedded hospital, only 12 could be put to use in the hospital. “Lack of space for beds often forced us to defer the surgeries. It has also limited our working capacity, forced us to deliver our services from the temporary sheds,” he said. “Services like OPD, emergency and immunization are delivered from these nondescript sheds”, he added.
The locals said they have been requesting the Government for the shifting of the hospital as over 50,000 residents bank on it for healthcare. They said at the time of construction the locals were assured of getting a full-fledged hospital, a promise that still remained unfulfilled.
“Government’s failure to complete the project within stipulated time showed indifferent nature of the authorities towards the problems of the people living in rural areas. We were happy after the construction started but because of Government’s lassitude, we have lost all the hopes,” Mehran Bashir, a local said.
The locals informed that in the beginning, the construction was delayed by two years because of a tussle between two local groups over the construction site. “Two years were lost due to a tussle between two local groups. It also wasted some money as well”, Owais Ahmad, a local said, adding that both patients and doctors are suffering due to lack of space.
As per locals, in absence of the much-needed structure, the hospital administration has converted the existing Sub District Hospital into District Hospital and that was affecting the effective delivery of healthcare in the area.”The authorities have built some makeshift room in order to cater to the rush of the patients. The space constraint is affecting the functioning of the hospital. Unless the new building is not completed the move to grant District Hospital to Bandipora is useless,” they said.
Former Member of Legislative Assembly for Bandipora, Usman Majid, said in 2015, the Government assured him to make the hospital functional but to no avail. “Late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who was the Chief Minister, promised me that the hospital will be commissioned by November 2015. Three years after the promise, the hospital remained unused,” he said, adding despite the availability of funds the administration seemed reluctant to put the infrastructure to use.