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South Kashmir awaits completion of emergency hospital

Mohammed Mohsen

February 21, 2008:

More than ten years have passed, since work started on the construction of an emergency hospital in Qazigund, 70 kilometres from Srinagar, summer capital of Indian administered Kashmir.

The hospital planned to cater to the needs of accident prone Srinagar-Jammu national highway, is still far from complete, as locals blame official apathy for the delay.

The construction work on this much hyped health centre started in December 1997. Since then it continues at snail's pace.

"The construction of this hospital was ordered specially to cater to the accidents on the Srinagar- Jammu highway and to provide medical aid to the people living in adjacent villages particularly during the disasters," recalls Abdul Gani Mir, a shopkeeper quoting words from the speech of Mustafa Kamal, the former Health Minister of Indian administered Kashmir during its stone laying foundation.

Villagers say an impressive function was held by the then ruling National Conference (NC) government.

"At that time we thought hospital will be ready in two years time but now ten years have passed and construction is yet to get completed. It is ridiculous on part of government and the politicians," rues Mir.

To avoid embarrassment the authorities have shifted the foundation stone dated December 6, 1997 to a store room, far from public gaze.

Health Officials in Srinagar say that Emergency hospital at Qaziqund will be first of its kind in the valley. The forty bed strength hospital will be looking particularly into accident cases on highways besides providing other facilities to the populace, especially the rural ones.

However officials decline to notify any particular date of this hospital becoming functional.

Director Health services, Dr. Muzaffar Jan told Kashmir Newz last year that work on hospital will be completed soon.

"Work on the hospital will resume shortly as we have got Rs two crore released for it," Jan had said.

On the other hand Jammu and Kashmir Projects Construction Corporation (JKPCC), entrusted with the construction of this hospital cite inadequate funds as the main reason for delayed construction.

"Paucity of funds is the main reason that compels us to stop work on the projects. Work remains suspended there because of the financial constraints," says a JKPCC official.

Traffic officials in Kashmir say that most of the accidents take place on this highway and area beyond Qazigund is categorised as accident prone.

The area is frequently plagued by landslides and avalanches due to its peculiar geography.

In the year 2005, a snow storm struck a Gujjar hamlet Waltengu Nar in Qazigund area, where in 158 people lost their lives and scores were injured. Last week also one person lost his life and a two others got injured when an avalanche hi their houses in Gulabbagh area of Qazigund.

In all of these cases the injured had to be referred to distant hospital in district headquarter Anantnag or to hospital in summer capital Srinagar.

“Number of people have died in the absence of proper and prompt medical care during all these years,” claims Mir. “Had this hospital been made functional at prescribed time all of them would have been saved.”

With hospital still under construction and work continuing to remain hindered for months altogether, people fear that it may take yet another tragedy of far bigger magnitude to wake up the government.



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