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Cash trouble halts hospital

Ranchi is not likely to get its 500-bed Sadar Hospital anytime soon as a funds crunch has brought all construction activity to a halt.

According to sources in the health department, the company executing the project stopped work in June as Rs 33 crore it required to go ahead was not forthcoming from the government.

The project was sanctioned in 2006 and Rs 131 crore was allocated for it. However, work could not start that year due to various reasons and when it finally commenced in 2008, executing firm National Building Construction Company Limited (NBCC) demanded Rs 160 crore, as costs had escalated over two years.

The revised budget submitted by the company was subsequently checked by the engineering section of the health department and after verification, the department approved Rs 144 crore in 2010.

As is the norm, after approval of the revised budget, it was expected that it would be sent to the department secretary for final approval. However, that never happened.

Meanwhile, unaware of the developments in the department, the company started work in June 2008 and continued till June this year. A bulk of the project was completed with the amount sanctioned in 2006, Rs 131 crore. The company also spent Rs 9 crore of its own, anticipating approval of its revised budget.

However, when NBCC came to know that less than what it had asked for had been sanctioned and also that the final approval was pending, it stopped all work. Though when contacted, health secretary K. Vidyasagar refused to admit that construction had stalled. “Go and see whether work has stopped,” was his terse message.

NBCC employees blamed lack of coordination between various arms of the health department for the present impasse. “There is no co-ordination between different sections. At present the file is pending with the office of the chief engineer, Ashok Ram, who has joined recently after the retirement of his predecessor,” said an official who did not want to be identified.

Project manager of the company, Sandeep Ghosh, however, remained tightlipped. “It is better to talk to government officials about this. I am not supposed to know all these things,” was his excuse.

Located near Albert Ekka Chowk, the new Sadar Hospital is coming up on a 10-acre landscaped campus. It will include a 11-storey main building to house the administrative wing and clinical departments, a 10-storey doctors’ hostel and a seven-storey ward building.

Work that remains to be done include wiring, ducting for air-conditioners, installation of a power sub-station and construction of a sewage treatment plant. The combined work would take six months to complete. The existing Sadar Hospital is a 20-bed heal hub.