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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

In 3 years and 5 months, Govt acquired 3 Kanals and 5 Marlas land for Budgam hospital

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, May 22: In one of his recent visits to the state, union Minister of Health, Ghulam Nabi Azad, complained publicly that not a stone had moved since he quit as Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir in July 2008. This may not be true with reference of several sectors but Health and Medical Education has evidently become a casualty during the National Conference-led coalition government.

On sustained persuasion of a journalist, residents of Rishipora and Chowdhary Bagh offered community grazing land (kahcharai) measuring 78 Kanals to Ghulam Nabi Azad’s government for the construction of a hospital proposed to be raised in Private Public Partnership (PPP) mode in the year 2007-08. Government had failed to find free land for raising of the proposed hospital, primarily for the convenience of the people in Budgam and Srinagar districts besides thousands of people getting associated with Northern Railways and resultant businesses around Railway Station Budgam

On then Chief Minister’s direction, then Director Health Services Kashmir, Dr Muzaffar Ahmad, then Divisional Commissioner, Mehbooba Iqbal, then Deputy Commissioner of Budgam, Farooq Reenzu, and then Chief Medical Officer Budgam, Dr Mushtaq Ahmad Kichloo, took possession of the site at Rishipora, in close vicinity of Railway Station Budgam. The farmers, who had occupied the land decades ago, offered to fell hundreds of their willows and other trees that had come up on the land. They also offered to clear out 30 Kanals of land which had been occupied by some farmers who had been cultivating rice on the same.

The high level official team, posted a sign board, notifying that it was the site for a hospital. Departments of Health and Revenue immediately started the process of demarcation of land besides acquisition of three-and-a-half Kanals of private land for the purpose of approach to the site from Srinagar-Bemina-Budgam Road.

However, the entire process came to a grinding hall when Mr Azad quit as Chief Minister and Governor became the head of the government in July 2008. Public representation poured in to Mr Omar Abdullah after he was sworn-in as Chief Minister, imploring him to get the Detailed Project Report (completed) for the purpose of according administrative approval and technical sanction to the hospital. On his instructions, his aide Asgar H Khan spoke to the new DC Budgam, Mohammad Rafi, and Directors of Health Services Kashmir, asking them to immediately complete the process and translate the Chief Minister’s orders into action without delay.

As things failed to move, representations continued to pour in from the people and Chief Minister’s Secretariat kept repeating the same directions to the authorities for over three years. It was finally earlier this year that CMO Budgam succeeded in acquiring 3 Kanals, 5 Marlas and 8 Sirai of the private land for the approach road. With that, the process has got stalled again, for reasons known to nobody, either in the administration or in the locality.

Notwithstanding SOSs from CMO Budgam, Directorate of Health Services Kashmir is unmoved and continuously indifferent to the public demand of raising a hospital at the site given by the residents into the possession of the state government. While noticing non-seriousness from the Government, some of the neighbouring farmers have again started efforts to encroach upon the land reserved for the hospital.

Even as Chief Minister Omar Abdullah did not address the public demand during his recent visit to Budgam on May 8th, CMO Budgam has dashed yet another letter to DHS Kashmir, requesting him to save the site by way of at least constructing a boundary wall. Vide No: CMOB/Plg/Land-Acq/Reshipora/2078-80 dated 12-05-2012, CMO Budgam has written to DHS Kashmir, Dr Saleem-ur-Rehman: “The Kahcharai land, measuring 78.6 Kanals has been identified for construction of Hospital at Reshipora, and the private land, measuring 3 Kanals, 5 Marlas, 8 Sirai has been acquired for the construction of approach road leading to Reshipora Hospital. There is apprehension of encroachment to identified Kahcharai land. It is, as such, requested that the walling may kindly be constructed around the Kahcharai land in question”.

Directorate of Health Services has conveniently not responded to the CMO’s communication. “This land will be fully encroached by some local farmers, if not immediately covered with boundary wall”, officials of Health Department in Budgam said.

While the hospital site at Reshipora is facing the threat of encroachment, reports insist that neighbouring farmers near SKIMS Medical College and Hajj House in Bemina have already encroached upon and grabbed the land of 70 Kanals that had been acquired by the Azad Government for raising of a pediatric hospital in 2006-07. None other than Azad revealed in his recent visit to Srinagar that he had acquired 100 Kanals of the land out of which 30 Kanals was used for raising of Hajj House and remaining 70 Kanals was still unutilized. He disclosed that after taking over as union Health Minister, he had also provided a sum of Rs 60 Cr in relaxation of the rural-specific NRHM for construction of two pediatric hospitals, one each in Srinagar and Jammu. According to him, state government had failed to start construction in the last over three years.

Not only that. The multi-Crore new Sub District Hospital at Sopore, constructed during Azad’s government, has failed to become functional for want of staff and infrastructure. According to residents, most of the rooms of the new hospital are still locked and the facility has not been made functional.

Reports from Handwara said that the newly constructed Sub District Hospital has failed to bring any relief as the total numbers of doctors posted there was just two. Due to these vacancies and incompletions, hundreds of patients, particularly women and children, are referred to the maternity and pediatric hospitals situated in the capital city. Most of the District Hospitals and SDHs have been functioning just as the collection and referral counters.


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