Announced over 4 years back, H1N1 lab of GMC Jammu nowhere in sight

*Work stopped by contractor for not getting payment

Govind Sharma

JAMMU, Nov 21: The BS IV Lab (also known as swine flu lab), which was announced over 4 years back by the Government in Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) Jammu, is nowhere in sight although it was to be established within one year.
According to official sources, the swine flu lab was simultaneously announced for GMC Jammu and for Chest Disease Hospital, Srinagar by the State Cabinet in March 2015 and these were to be established within a shortest possible time.
They said that on the very next day, the Planning & Development Department released Rs 6.30 crore to Health & Medical Education Department for setting up an independent H1N1 testing facility at GMC Jammu and another Rs 5.63 crore for establishing H1N1 testing facility at Chest Disease Hospital, Srinagar.
“Though both the labs were announced simultaneously, the H1N1 lab in Chest Disease Hospital Srinagar was made functional about three years back while at GMC Jammu, only civil and mechanical works of the lab including construction of isolated rooms have been completed and the major works such as installation of lab and procurement of equipment is still lingering on”, sources regretted.
Attributing the inordinate delay in establishment of swine flu lab in GMC Jammu to administrative inertia, sources questioned how the same lab was established in GMC Srinagar within a short span of time. They said due to delay the project cost has already escalated by Rs one crore and if not completed soon, its cost will further increase.
Sources said last year after Jammu and Kashmir Medical Supplies Corporation (JKMSC) failed to select any firm for the installation of the lab after repeated tendering, the administration of GMC Jammu with the consent of the Corporation and approval from the Administrative Department, took up the work of installation of the lab in their hand and selected a vendor namely Biosafe India Limited for the purpose.
In September last year, the Principal GMC Jammu while talking to Excelsior stated that the project will be completed within few months but even after over one year, the project is incomplete as the Biosafe India Limited, the company to which the work of installation of lab was given, has stopped work as a mark of protest since a single penny has not been released to the company while as it has completed half of the work worth Rs 1.7 crore (out of total cost of approximately Rs 3.30 crore).
When contacted, Principal GMC Jammu, Dr Sunanda Raina, confirmed that the work on the installation of the lab has been stopped by the company. She claimed that the company has completed about 70% work and it would have completed the remaining work by the end of December but it stopped the work some time back demanding release of half of the payment of work done till date.
She said they have taken up the issue of release of funds with the Principal Secretary, Health and Medical Education Department, Atal Dulloo, who has assured that the funds will be released soon.
However, Atal Dulloo, when contacted, said that they have written to Finance Department for revalidation of funds as the funds released earlier were lapsed. He said it was also a necessary exercise after October 31, 2019 when the J&K becomes a Union Territory.
“As soon as we get the funds revalidated, the company engaged in the project will be paid their due payment and once the company starts the work, it will be completed within one month,” the Principal Secretary added.