BUDGAM: Despite the Health department’s claims to have upgraded the Auxiliary Nursing Midwifery (ANM) School at Khanpora in Budgam district from auxiliary to general nursing midwifery (GNM), the school has never been operational till date for unknown reasons.
The training institute (now called the General Nursing Midwifery School on official records) was constructed at a cumulative cost of Rs 3.9 lakhs and was inaugurated in 2012. The institute has 20 rooms and is equipped with all requisite labs, lecture halls and recreation halls as well as adequate boarding and lodging facilities for the trainees. But the unfortunate fact is that the school’s two-storey buildings have only gathered layers of dust for nearly six years and, with the passage of time, have started decaying.
The ANM School was established with the aim of improving the health care delivery system in the state’s hospitals and also to overcome the shortage of manpower but nothing has improved at the ground level.
Kashmir Reader has learnt that the construction of the training institute, located at the top of seven kanal kerawas, was actually started in 1987 but, due to factors such as the outbreak of militancy in Kashmir, could not progress at first beyond the plinth level.
Work on the building revived in 2008, culminating in the institute being formally inaugurated in 2012 by the then NC-Congress coalition government. The ANM was further upgraded to GNM in 2016.
The empty buildings are presently being encroached upon by the Health department, which has turned the spacious premises into a store to stock fresh and discarded medical equipment.
Locals allege that in the late eighties, the Health department cheated and betrayed them by making fake promises to the masses. “Seven kanals of land were dedicated by the common people for the construction of the institute after they (the Health department) promised that youths would be trained at the institute to serve poor and downtrodden people.
“Apart from FMPHW (Female Multipurpose Health Worker) training, the officials had promised us that the school will offer courses for such careers as lab assistant, OT technician, dental assistant, X-ray assistant, ophthalmic assistant and anaesthesia assistant, for which students till then had to go to private schools and outside the state,” said Ghulam Mohiud-din Dar, former president, town area Budgam.
Without staff or students, the GNM School, with its two empty buildings, is craving official attention. The people meanwhile wait eagerly to see it become operational. A government nod for that is yet to appear.
“Despite government claims to have improved the health system and the health status of the people especially in rural areas, we have been ignored by successive regimes on no other grounds than a political basis,” Dar alleged.
According to a plaque installed at the front of the building, “The school was inaugurated by former health minister Sham Lal Sharma, along with the then finance minister, Abdul Rahim Rather, and the district’s four legislators on 16 May 2012.”
Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Budgam, Dr G M Dar told Kashmir Reader the school lacks permission to make it operational and added that the reasons for that are unknown.
“The training school has a building and a hostel but the school is yet to operate though it has been upgraded to General Nursing Midwifery level. There is no sanction for this school and there is no permission to make it functional yet,” he said.
“It was upgraded from ANM to GNM in 2016, but the irony is that it has so far only been used for the Controller Storage which has been kept there by the Director Health for the time being,” Dar added.
Director Health Services, Kashmir, Saleem-Ur-Rahman admitted that almost six years have elapsed and the school has still not been made functional even though other institutes have received their go ahead years before in other districts of the Valley.
“We have sent our proposal to the government umpteen numbers of times in the past but to no avail,” he said, adding, “We have sent the proposal again, and the government is actively working on it. We hope it will be made functional soon.”
When asked for the reasons behind the government’s apathetic approach to the GNM School, he said that it depends on “utility”. “The Budgam school is nearer to Srinagar district, and Srinagar has an abundance of such institutes,” he said.