Chinks in Bijbehara hospital building plastered to conceal vulnerability

Chinks in Bijbehara hospital building plastered to conceal vulnerability

Only thing repairs are doing is make us forget building is very unsafe, says a doctor

Bijbehara: More than two years after being declared unsafe, the sub-district hospital (SDH) Bijbehara’s building is finally getting repaired but only superficially, with nothing done to avert the risks the damaged structure poses to patients as well as hospital staff.
According to hospital sources, the contractors engaged by Roads and Buildings (R&B) department are using only superficial plaster over the heavy cracks the building developed in the 2014 floods, which will only conceal the damage but do nothing to mend the building’s condition.
“They are not even scratching the surface. They are only plastering the heavy cracks. Only thing the work will be able to do is make us forget that the structure was very unsafe for accommodation,” a senior doctor at the hospital told Kashmir Reader.
Costs for the R&B department’s renovation undertaking, to mend civil, sanitary and structural damage, are estimated at Rs 20 lakh, as per R&B officials.
“That sounds like a cruel joke. Rs 20 lakh for plastering cracks? It seems like the work has been sanctioned only to benefit some blue-eyed contractor,” scoff the hospital staff.
The R&B department had declared the building unsafe after its getting submerged in the floods of September 2014.
The report submitted by the department’s Assistant Executive Engineer for Bijbehara soon after the floods highlighted the extensive damage the building had sustained.
“The building of SDH Bijbehara remained submerged up to the ceiling of the ground floor in flood waters due to which it got damaged,” reads the report. “The inner walls of some blocks in ground floor are showing cracks in superstructure as well as Kota stone flooring in ground floor.”
It further asserts that the flooring of the ground floor has also sunk at the centre of the in-patient ward.
“It is to report that in view of the present condition of the structure, it is unsafe for accommodation. The building as such should be kept under observation for a period of one month and after which safety of the building shall be communicated accordingly,” advised the report submitted back then.
The government has slept over the issue up till now, putting hundreds of lives in grave danger as the hospital continued to function normally despite being declared unsafe.
“And now that the work is being carried out, it turns out to be only a superficial cover job to close the mouths of people demanding the building’s renovation,” hospital officials told Kashmir Reader.
They lamented that the wide cracks in the superstructure of the building are too dangerous to be ignored and concealed under ordinary plaster.
R&B Superintendent Engineer Sami Arif told Kashmir Reader that the contractors are supposed to mend the cracks properly.
“It’s a work worth Rs 20 lakh and is divided into three parts including mending of sanitary damage, the civil damage and the structural damage,” Arif said, adding that each part will be carried out according to norms.
He said that he will personally look into the matter and see if the work is being carried out the way it needs to be.