35,000 people still dependent on 100-year-old health centre

35,000 people still dependent on 100-year-old health centre
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SDH Pahalgam remains distant dream as PDA fails to identify land

Anantnag: More than eight years after getting a Sub-District Hospital (SDH) sanctioned, some 35 thousand people here in Pahalgam in Anantnag district remain dependent on a health centre that was established not less than a hundred years ago, and was never upgraded.
In 2010, when Kashmiri politician Ghulam Nabi Azad was the Union Health Minister, an SDH was sanctioned to the famous tourist spot. The Pahalgam Development Authority (PDA) was asked to identify land for the proposed SDH, which it has failed to do so far.
Two doctors, who take turns to attend to the patients during the week, and a few paramedics is all that the health centre has for more than 67 small and big villages dependent on it.
“The health centre was established during the reign of Maharaja Hari Singh and is yet to be upgraded,” a health official told Kashmir Reader, requesting not to be named.
The residents rue that they have to travel for hours, in harsh conditions, to get proper health care.
“We have to travel to SDH Seer or SDH Sallar, which area the nearest ones, and they are 29 and 20 kilometers from here, in that order,” said Uzair Ahmad, a resident of Pahalgam.
He said that things get even more disastrous during the winter months as heavy snow in the area cuts it off from other parts.
The only respite for the residents is during the Amarnath Yatra, when teams after teams of doctors are deployed to Pahalgam.
“The government has been clearly showing us that we are lesser mortals and the only people who need health care are the Yatris,” a shopkeeper from Pahalgam told Kashmir Reader.
Health officials maintain that the authorities concerned have not taken any pains to get things done vis-à-vis this particular SDH.
“I have recently joined here and even I have written letters to concerned authorities about the delay. I’m sure even my predecessors have also done that,” Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Anantnag, Dr Mushtaq Ahmad Shah, told Kashmir Reader.
Kashmir Reader also talked to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the PDA, Nasir Lone, who excused himself by saying he had been recently posted to Pahalgam.
“No such thing has come to my notice yet. I have joined recently,” Lone told this reporter.
With officials exhibiting casual approach, the SDH seems to be a distant dream for the people of Pahalgam. For now they remain dependent on what Hari Singh’s cabinet had sanctioned for them.