By: Ahmad Shabir
Anantnag: In 2012 residents of Pahalgam were jubilant after the then Union Minister for Health and Medical Education sanctioned sub-district hospital for the tourist spot. They had hoped that the fifty bedded hospital will put end to their sufferings. However, nine years have elapsed, the hospital is nowhere in sight.
Nearly a decade long delay in construction of the hospital has angered the locals who continue to face the agonies seeking treatment at other distant healthcare facilities.
Besides politics, locals cited other reasons for delay in the construction of the hospital including the failure of the PDA to identify the land for years and incompetence of health authorities to plead the case in the High Court and seek permission for the construction.
“When the hospital was sanctioned to the tourist spot, the High Court ban was already in place. PDA was then asked to identify the land for construction of the same which took the agency several years together,” local residents said.
Politics played by the politicians, locals said, led to further delay in construction of the hospital.
“A lot of politics was played over the construction of the hospital. While some politicians wanted the hospital to be shifted out the town and even got the land identified at Lidroo, seven kms from Pahalgam, others opposed it’s shifting. These politicians wanted to gain political mileage out of the construction of the SDH at the site of their choice, it consumed many more years to identify the land causing further delay,” a local Zubair Ahmad told Precious Kashmir.
Health authorities, locals said, equally proved incompetent enough as they bitterly failed to seek the high court permission for the construction of the hospital building.
“During the period of ban many government projects came up in Pahalgam after the concerned departments pleaded their cases. But health authorities seemed to be non-serious in seeking the permission for the hospital building which is of public importance,” another local, Bashir Ahmad said.
A community health center with no basic facilities is all about the healthcare at the tourist spot. Established during Maharajas rule, the CHC functions from decades old building.
Since the existing CHC at the tourist spot remains devoid of facilities, people of Pahalgam and many other villages have to seek treatment even for minor ailments at other hospitals.
“We have to travel at least twenty to thirty kms to seek the treatment at SDH Seer or medical college Anantnag,” said another resident , Mohammad Shafi.
The only season that the health center in Pahalgam has doctors available, according to locals is the Amarnath yatra season.
“We only see the doctors at the health center here only during Yatra season. But once the Yatra is over , those doctors and other Para-mefdical staff also disappears,” the resident said.
Now that the authorities have started construction of the hospital at the site of the existing hospital but locals don’t expect the facility to be completed in coming years.
“Due to cold weather conditions and heavy snow fall in winters, constructions in Pahalgam are put at halt for at least four months. We are sure that construction of the building will take many more years,” a local, Zahoor Ahmad said.
Deputy chief medical officer, Dr M Y Zagoo said that the foundation stone of the hospital was recently laid by the deputy union health minister.
“Work has been started at the hospital and the construction agency has been given two years for completion of the project,” deputy CMO said.