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Crores for idle crores
- Infrastructure, equipment gather dust at multi-speciality site

When work does start on the proposed multi-speciality hospital within Medical College and Hospital (MCH), architects will not need to worry about the site or even lay the foundation for the building.

For, what Delhi thinks today, Writers’ Buildings had thought through 17 years ago. The college already has everything in place, thanks to another plan that was hatched in 1987 and one that remains two-ninths (two storeys out of nine) complete.

The promise of a Rs 100-crore bounty — and the promise of a state-of-the-art hospital within the existing hospital — do not seem to have turned too many heads at the site, that suddenly finds itself at the centre of attention. For, MCH, with sophisticated machines that gather dust now, has been there and seen it all when it comes to plans and promises, say people associated with it for the past three decades.

Though nothing has been finalised, the place now under the spotlight for accommodating the proposed nine-storey, multi-speciality hospital is the double-storey outpatients’ department constructed in 1987. “Work started on the nine-storey complex but ended after two storeys because of paucity of funds,” officials admitted.

Another foundation was planned — almost exactly to the day 20 years ago — when the state health minister announced his central counterpart’s promise. This one was supposed to be the Terjubilee Building and the foundation stone was laid by former chief minister Jyoti Basu. Today, it is just another instance of what could have been.

But the unkindest cut for the college must be the government’s failure to kickstart the dialysis unit that was donated by its own alumni 13 years ago. This, too, has a foundation stone (unveiled by former health minister Prasanta Sur). Today, the unit gathers dust, occupying half of a whole floor in Green Building.

The dialysis machines lead the list of expensive equipment lying idle. “All of them put together will add up to a few crores,” a senior MCH official said. “A grant of Rs 100 crore is always welcome, but what about the crores we are wasting now'”

• There are so many cases to prove the point, say colleagues of the MCH official:

• The laser in the gynaecology department lying in disrepair for the past four years (estimated price: half a crore)

• The operating microscope in the plastic surgery department lying idle (estimated price: Rs 15 lakh)

• The auto-analyser in the biochemistry department, idle because of the absence of reagents (estimated price: Rs 15 lakh).

“It will be a gross mistake to think that money is enough to make an AIIMS out of MCH,” said a senior hospital official. “Before pumping in so much money, one must take a hard look at the problems being inherited.”

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