The lives of the patients and the staff of the Sub-District Hospital (SDH) of Bijbehara in Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s home town continues to be at risk as the building was declared unsafe by the Roads and Buildings (R&B) Department over two years ago. The building of the hospital is still in a dilapidated condition and has not been repaired.
During the devastating floods of 2014, the hospital building had developed massive cracks and after a safety audit conducted by the R&B authorities, the building was declared unsafe for accommodation.
The report that was prepared and submitted by the then executive engineer of the R&B division Khanabal, Showkat Ahmad Dar, stated that flood waters had completely submerged the ground floor of the hospital. As a result of this, the inner walls of some blocks in the ground floor had developed cracks in its superstructure and the Kota stone flooring had got damaged. In the inpatient ward, the flooring had caved in at the centre.
Witnesses said that in the double storey block of the old building, a structure had moved away from its actual position by around six to nine inches.
The report stated, “In view of the present condition, the hospital building is unsafe for accommodation. All the concerned authorities should be apprised of this condition of the structure to avoid any untoward incident.”
However, no measures have been taken till date by authorities to carry out any repair work to restore the dilapidated hospital building. A hospital staff, on conditions of anonymity, said “After the building was declared unsafe, top health authorities visited the hospital only to ensure that it starts functioning without giving much heed to the report that declared it unsafe.”
A doctor posted at SDH Bijbehara said, “In recent times, Kashmir valley has witnessed a spurt in earthquakes and one wonders if there is a major quake, and if the building collapses, who will the authorities put the blame on.”
Meanwhile, an R&B official said, “If the building has been declared unsafe then it is the job of the health authorities to arrange the funds for its repair. We can only provide technical support if the concerned authorities approach us.”
The Chief Medical Officer of Anantnag said that a letter has already been written to the R&B officials but no response has been received.
The Assistant Executive Engineer of R&B’s Bijbehera division, Mushtaq Ahmed, said, “We were asked by the top authorities to wait and watch. So, we did not initiate any repairs. Furthermore, we did not receive any communication from the Health Department to repair the building though we had sent the estimates for repairs. So far, we have not received the funds to carry out any repair work.”
Locals allege that despite being the home town of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, Bijbehara lacks basic facilities. So much so, the Sub District Hospital lacks proper facilities and sanitation.
“Director Health visited the hospital and assured that hospital would be upgraded without any delay, but nothing has changed on ground,” they said.
“There is no digital X-Ray machine, both male and female patients are clubbed together in narrow rooms, there is no sanitation and heating facilities and both patients and attendants shiver during the cold season inside the hospital.”
The aggrieved locals said that attendants are forced to arrange for the bedding of the patients admitted in the hospital. “The hospital administration believes in referrals only. A patient with a minor injury or any minor case is advised to be shifted to Srinagar hospitals,” they said.
They alleged that the hospital lacks a gynaecologist and what came as a rude shock to them was when a dermatologist was made to act as a gynaecologist. “Lack of physicians, surgeons, gynaecologists, orthopaedicians have severely affected patient care at the hospital.”
Irate Locals said that the authorities have only changed its name board of the hospital from Community Health Center to Sub-District Hospital, while as there are no facilities. They said, “It is a mockery in the name of healthcare. The hospital lacks basic facilities.”
The citizens of Bijbehara demanded immediate intervention of Chief Minister Mufti in this regard.