PDA, Health department trade blame over delay
ANANTNAG: In 2012, when the central government upgraded a medical dispensary in Pahalgam to a sub-district hospital and sanctioned a new building and latest equipment for it, people of the area were hopeful of gaining access to better healthcare. Five years later, they are a disappointed lot. Not even land for the new building has been identified.
“Only the name of the hospital has changed in five years,” locals said. “The hospital continues to function from the same old wooden structure with the same facilities and staff as that of the medical dispensary.”
Lakhs of tourists visit Pahalgam every year, particularly during the summers. Besides, more than five lakh pilgrims use the place as a base camp for the pilgrimage to Amarnath. Despite being a tourist hub and tehsil headquarter, the government has not bothered to construct a hospital here.
“Due to the poor healthcare facilities here, people are forced to go to the sub-district hospital in Seer or to the district hospital Anantnag,” residents complained.
It is only during the Amarnath Yatra period that Pahalgam gets attention of the government. Dozens of doctors and paramedics are deputed to the “sub-district hospital” but as soon as the pilgrimage ends, the entire staff goes back.
Residents of the area blamed both the Pahalgam Development Authority (PDA) and the health department for not acquiring land for the hospital. An official of the health department, in turn, blamed the PDA for not cooperating with the department.
“We have been taking up the issue with the PDA since the day the hospital was sanctioned. But the PDA, using the excuse of the ban on constructions in the area, did not identify land for the hospital. Funds are available with us; we are only waiting for the PDA to provide us the land,” the official said.
However, chief executive officer (CEO) of the PDA, Mushtaq Ahmed Simnani, accused the health department of not taking the matter seriously.
“Health officials should have made their case seriously. We could have found some way out. But there is not a single representation from the department in my office in this regard. We are not to be blamed,” the CEO told Kashmir Reader.
Chief medical officer, Anantnag, Dr Fazil Ali Kochak said that they have approached the high court seeking directions to the concerned department to provide land for the hospital. “We are waiting for the honorable court to pass directions in this regard. Once the court does it we will immediately start construction work on the hospital,” the doctor said.