Former minister hoodwinked people on upgrading a health center
KOKERNAG: A week before the election commission of India issued a notification for 2014 assembly polls in Kashmir, the then Congress leader and Kokernag legislator, Peerzada Mohammad Syed visited the hepatitis hit Magam village in the constituency and announced the up-gradation of a health sub-center to new type public health center (NTPHC). Syed, who held various important portfolios during NC-Congress regime also got a signboard reading ‘New Type Public Health Center Magam’ installed on the windowless two roomed structure.
However, nearly three years have passed, locals say, nothing has changed except the replacement of the signboard on the roadside health center.
“New type PHC is supposed to be 10-bedded health facility with the entire basic infrastructure along-with medical and para-medical staff.
“It is a joke in the name of PHC,” a group of villagers told Kashmir Reader.
Magam and another nearby Sonabrarie village hit the headlines in 2013 after nearly half of the population of the area was found infected with hepatitis -C, a viral disease causing liver malfunctioning if not treated at the early stage.
Locals allege that the announcement of up-gradation of the virtually non-existent sub-center to new type PHC only a few days before the model code of conduct came into force was only an attempt to gain votes.
“Since the epidemic of hepatitis-C had broken out in the area only a year ago, people were very angry over the non-availability of health care facilities in the village. So the MLA to pacify the public anger and secure votes came and announced the up-gradation of sub-center to new type PHC,” said the locals.
Village headman, Habibullah Mir, said that the signboard and a medical assistant are all about this new type PHC.
“You will never see any patient even with minor headache going to this PHC. Yes they administer polio drops to the children here to give the impression of availability of the facility,” Mir told Kashmir Reader.
Ironically most of the people in the village don’t know if there is any government medical facility in the area.
This reporter asked at least five locals about the location of the PHC but all of them had no idea. “Medical shops are here. Here is no government health center,” said one of the local youth.
“This signboard was erected to secure votes from the village otherwise we knew setting up of NTPHC in two windowless rooms was not going to serve any purpose,” said a local wishing anonymity.
Peerzada could not be reached for comment. However, the incumbent legislator Abdul Rahim Rather said that sub-center in the village had actually never been upgraded.
“Only signboard was erected to fool the people. It is me who has sent a proposal for its up-gradation. I have also recommended the construction of the building for the same,” Rather told Kashmir Reader.
He said that it was not only sub-center Nagam but many other centers and schools saw the replacement of signboard in the constituency during previous regime. “But on papers they have not been actually upgraded,” he alleged.