NTPHC Wullar far from completion

NTPHC Wullar Lake operates from a rented facility.
NTPHC Wullar Lake operates from a rented facility.

Suhail Bhat

SRINAGAR, Feb 2: The New Type Primary Health Centre (NTPHC) Wullar, which was intended for the fishermen who lived along the banks of the Wullar Lake in the Bandipora district of north Kashmir, is still under construction 10 years after the project’s inception.
The residents said that the Awkaf building was destroyed to make room for the hospital infrastructure, and work on the infrastructure started in 2011. The villagers, however, assert that it is still far from finished more than ten years later.
“Construction work started straight away and went on at full pace until 2016, but since then, no progress has been made on the project,” Ghulam Hassan, a local of the Zurimenz area, said.
The facility, which overlooks Asia’s largest freshwater lake, was constructed to accommodate the medical needs of the thousands of people who live along the banks of Wullar lake in villages like Shalpora, Zurmenz, and Bangladesh. To provide healthcare to fishermen, the government came up with the idea of a mobile dispensary forty years ago, but even today, the authorities have failed to build the necessary infrastructure.
According to the locals, a staff of eight personnel, including an ambulance driver, two sweepers, two nursing orderlies, and a senior nurse, has been authorized to provide patient care at the facility. “But only 40% of the personnel are actually working at the hospital, while the rest never shows up. The pharmacist treats patients at the facility,” Ghulam Mohammad, another local, said.
The locals said they had never seen a doctor in their neighbourhood with the exception of a few brief doctor visits. “The Center employed an Ayurvedic doctor for one or two years, but the doctor was on probation and, after being regularised, he made use of political clout to depart the facility. Since then, no other medical expert has been stationed here,” the locals said.
According to them, pregnant women are the most affected because they have to travel long distances for treatment.
Masarat Iqbal, the Block Medical Officer for Bandipora, told Excelsior that the hospital’s construction was delayed because there was not enough land nearby for it. “It took us approximately 2-3 years to make the land accessible, and as a result, the facility could not be completed in time,” he said.
He further said that the project had been added to the district budget and that construction work would shortly resume. “Only a small number of patients and staff members can be housed in the facility’s current infrastructure. We sought to rent accommodation with more space, but it is not available,” he said.