Bijbehara: Lives of both patients and doctors are at risk in the sub-district hospital of Bijbehara, chief minister Mehbooba Mufti’s hometown.
The hospital building was declared as unsafe after suffering damage in the 2014 floods. A report signed by then executive engineer Khanbal R&B division (roads and buildings) Showkat Ahmad Dar says the floor of the inpatient ward has sunken in the middle and there are massive cracks in several walls and ceilings. Yet, a year-and-a half later, the building has seen no repair or any safety precaution put in place.
Located on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway in the main market, the hospital’s ground floor lay submerged in water for weeks in 2014. When the flood water receded, the district R&B authorities conducted a safety audit of the building in which they found it unfit for accommodation.
The executive engineer’s report, a copy of which is in possession of Kashmir Reader, further reads that one double-storey block with CGI sheet roofing located within the premises of the main old building has deviated from its position by 6 to 9 inches.
“In view of the present condition of the structure, it is unsafe for accommodation. The building as such be kept under observation for a period of one month, after which safety of the building shall be communicated accordingly. It is as such requested that the concerned authorities may please be apprised about the condition of the building accordingly so that any kind of untoward incident is avoided,” the report reads.
Though the copy of the report was addressed to the deputy commissioner Anantnag, director health services Kashmir, and chief medical officer Anantnag, the hospital staff say that no department took any action.
“After the building was declared unsafe, the top health authorities visited the hospital only to ensure that it began functioning, without giving a damn about the report of the R&B engineers,” said a paramedic posted at the hospital.
The sub-district hospital at Bijbehara is one of the most overcrowded hospitals in the district. The hospital caters to patients from parts of Kulgam and Shopian districts as well. The hospital OPD receives about 13,000 patients a month.
A doctor posted at the hospital said that the slightest of earthquakes was certain to bring down the building.
“A major joint in one side of the building has almost separated. One wonders if there is an earthquake and the building collapses, whom will the authorities blame then?” the doctor said.
The new executive engineer, R&B division Khanabal, Nazir Ahmad, said that the safety audit of the hospital building was conducted before he took charge. “I have no idea about the building having been declared as unsafe. If that is the case, it is the job of the health authorities to arrange the funds for its repair. We are supposed to provide technical support when the health authorities approach us for the same,” the officer said.
None of the top officials of the health department, including director health services, and the chief medical officer Anantnag, responded to calls from Kashmir Reader.