HC seeks status, also directs ‘effective implementation’ of recommendations by Director SKIMS-led panel
Srinagar: The state government has failed to utilise Rs 2.47 crore released in December 2013 by government of India for establishing a laboratory exclusively for diseases like swine flu and Ebola.
J&K was among the nine states which were sanctioned laboratories and, the facility was expected to come up at the sanctioned cost of over Rs 6 crore.
“The amount (Rs 2, 47, 00 000) has been released by the central government in December 2013, (but)…has not been utilised till date,” Assistant Solicitor General of India S A Makroo told a bench of Justices Muzaffar Hussain Attar and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey during the hearing of a Public Interest Litigation on Monday.
On this, the bench directed Senior Additional Advocate General J A Kawoosa to inform it about the statement made by Makroo before next date of hearing in the PIL during the week commencing April 27.
“The Commissioner Secretary to government, Health and Medical Education Department shall indicate in the status report whether the amount has been utilised, and if so, for what purpose,” the court said.
In another related direction, the court directed governing body of SKIMS, Soura, and government to take effective steps for implementation of the recommendations made by an expert committee last week.
“The state government shall advert its attention to the recommendations made by the court committee about 50 bed hospital at SKIMS and take decision thereon. In the public interest the decision would require to be taken it the earliest,” the bench said.
The recommendations by the panel headed by SKIMS director, Dr Showkat Zargar, have also called for, vaccinating entire population in the state in September and October.
The panel which was appointed by the court earlier this month has also advised immunization on priority basis of all high risk groups like health care workers, children less than five years of age, pregnant women, elderly as well as people with comorbidities like chronic heart disease or cancers.
For the 50-bed ‘infectious hospital’, the panel has submitted that land stands already identified for it. “The SKIMS has the manpower and other infrastructure in place for establishing such a hospital and shall also take care of other diseases like Ebola, multi-drug resistant tuberculoses which are even bigger threats to the human life,” the panel said.
So far 12 persons have died due to the swine flu while 393 people have tested positive for the deadly virus in the Valley.
Meanwhile, the court also ordered inclusion of Dr. Shazia Wafai, Regional Director, (Health & Family Welfare) government of India as member of the court committee constituted on March 17.
The panel headed by Director SKIMS already has Director Health Services Kashmir and Principal Government Medical College Srinagar as members and it has been asked to chalk out programmes to ensure that swine flu gets controlled and does not affect the people any further.
“The Director SKIMS shall inform (Wafai) about the convening of meetings so that she will also participate and provide valuable assistance to the Committee,” the court said.
The bench also modified its March 17 order to the extent that the committee will now hold fortnightly instead of weekly meetings.
Meanwhile, at the request of Kawoosa, the court granted the Director Health Services week’s time to explain his position as to why he did not attend the meeting of the committee as was directed by the court.
The court was hearing PILs filed, among others, by advocate Syed Ajaz Ahmad Qadri, seeking measures to curb the H1N1 virus in the Valley.
Advocates S A Qadri and Adil Ismi appeared for the petitioners while advocate M I Dar represented SKIMS before the court.