Jharia residents take part in a signature campaign for a community hospital in Dhanbad on Wednesday. (Gautam Dey)
Close to 1,100 people on Thursday signed up for a campaign to protest against a defunct community hospital building in Jharia, which was constructed at a cost of around Rs 1.29 crore.
The signature drive started on Jharia Main Road around 10am under the leadership of ward No. 37 councillor Anup Sao and continued till 2pm.
The councillor and his supporters also raised slogans against Dhanbad district administration for its negligent attitude towards the two-storied building at Baniahir, which was supposed to house the community health centre of Jharia currently situated 4km away at Chasnala.
Later, a memorandum addressed to state health and family welfare minister Rajendra Prasad Singh was handed over to Dhanbad deputy commissioner Prashant Kumar.
Sao, in the memorandum, demanded a probe into the “incomplete” status of the hospital, a work order for which was given to Jharia-based contractor H.K. Singh in 2010.
“We will intensify our protest and burn the effigy of executive officer of building division of state government Manoj Kumar Mahli in Jharia on February 20 unless he explains the inordinate delay in completing the infrastructure at the hospital,” Sao said.
He pointed out that there was no well-equipped hospital in Jharia and people had to travel 15km to reach Patliputra Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) in Dhanbad.
“Women who are expecting are the worst sufferers as they cannot be ferried to PMCH during labour. As for the existing community health centre at Chasnala, it is housed in a single-storied building and devoid of important facilities like intensive care unit,” Sao added.
Notably, the new building, comprising four large halls, an operation theatre, an ICU, a general ward and lavatories, was ready by 2011. But before the final handover, a theft took place in March that year with the gang decamping with electrical appliances and cables, water supply pipelines, tiles, sanitary fittings, staircase railings, a submersible pump, windows and doors.
Jharia residents alleged that since then no effort was made by the health department or the district administration to complete the hospital.
Contractor Singh is now behind bars in a criminal case and the building division has blacklisted him and terminated the agreement with him.
“A revised estimate of around Rs 1.64 crore was later sent by executive engineer Mahli to the chief engineer’s office in Ranchi. But, that is yet to be sanctioned,” said junior engineer, building division, Jawahar Singh, adding that a fresh tender could be issued only after the file was cleared.
Dhanbad civil surgeon Arun Kumar Sinha acknowledged the problems centred around the Chasnala health centre but refused to comment any further.