Bijbehara: The Trauma Hospital Bijbehara, which could have been a huge health facility in a region starved of it, has been lying completely defunct for more than a year now, after being put to use during the initial stages of the pandemic.
The hospital was part of a larger plan to minimise accident-related deaths along the national highway, through the creation of twelve such Trauma Hospitals. The hospitals were sanctioned by the National Conference (NC)-Congress coalition government in around 2010.
In 2013, the then Chief Minister Omar Abdullah laid the foundation stone for the Trauma Hospital in Bijbehara town of Anantnag district. For years the project kept lingering after that.
“After much ado and over Rs 13 crore in expenditure, the hospital was hastily given final touches and prepared to be made a quarantine center at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020,” a source in the health department told Kashmir Reader.
During the pandemic, the hospital was used as a quarantine center and later a maternity facility for Covid-positive pregnant women. “Surgeries were carried out at the facility, an oxygen plant was installed, and ample staff stationed to meet the needs,” the source said.
However, as the infections declined and the administration stopped taking the pandemic seriously, the facility was abandoned. At present, the hospital is defunct with only a caretaker stationed at the hospital.
“It is a pity that such a huge facility was being kept lying defunct,” residents of the town told Kashmir Reader, “and that too while our Sub-District Hospital operates from a dilapidated building, declared unsafe by the authorities.”
The locals alleged that the SDH was facing a staff crunch, while the new building of the hospital is taking way too long to be made functional. “And that is despite the fact that almost half of Anantnag district is dependent on the hospital,” the locals said.
They demanded that the Trauma Hospital be made functional and some of the facilities from SDH Bijbehara be transferred to the facility. The residents questioned the logic of keeping such a huge facility lying defunct.
“The hospital could have been an immense help as far as healthcare here is concerned. It has anyway been bypassed with the opening of NH-44 and it is highly unlikely that it can be used for the purpose it was meant for in the first place. Why not utilise the infrastructure?” the locals asked.
Kashmir Reader talked to Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Anantnag, Dr MY Zagoo, who acknowledged that the hospital was lying defunct. “Posts for the hospital need to be created and infrastructure, including machinery, needs to be added to the facility before it is made functional,” Zagoo told Kashmir Reader.
He added that the post-creation and upgradation of the infrastructure were decisions that are taken at the directorate level. “We have raised the issue and are waiting for the response,” he said.