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A super clinic’s lo-o-o-ng illness

- Funds row, favouritism mar 2006 project

Lady luck is sulking at the super specialty centre of Ranchi Sadar Hospital.

The much-delayed capital project, which has seen four health ministers and more than half a dozen secretaries, besides two stints of President’s Rule, failed to take off yet again with the tender seeking a private partner to run the centre on PPP mode being nixed for the third consecutive time since 2012.

On May 29, health minister Rajendra Prasad Singh struck down the entire bidding process saying it would be “unfair” to select one between two bidders. The interested players were Global Healthcare, which owns Medanta — The Medicity in Gurgaon founded by the country’s eminent cardiac surgeon Dr Naresh Trehan, and Calcutta-based academic major Techno India Group.

Insiders in the health department underscored that either of the two companies, if it qualified the financial bid, should have been allowed to run the specialty clinic, which missed its first deadline in 2012 and another last year. “Ab yeh project uparwale ke bharose hai (Now, the project is in God’s hands),” said an official.

Citing probable reasons behind cancellation of the tender, he said: “According to new clauses in the tender, the finalised bidder must complete remaining construction work too. At present, 25 per cent work is incomplete. Why would the state allow outsiders to complete construction? It would rather push a fresh proposal, with of course increased estimates, through cabinet and involve local players.”

Incidentally, in 2006, when the super specialty wing was conceptualised, the project cost was Rs 131 crore.

In 2008, when construction work finally commenced under National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC), the latter demanded another Rs 30 crore as escalation expenditure accrued over two years. Non-payment of the same forced the company to shelve work. The current cost, unofficially, stands at Rs 201 crore.

On the condition of anonymity, a senior government official said: “When work was stopped by NBCC, another promoter was asked to complete the same in 2012. As far as I can remember, a local player was roped in, but he too failed to continue. The major obstacle was funds because fresh estimates required cabinet nod and hence, a lot of paperwork and running around. Who cares to do all that?”

Detailing on incomplete jobs that require more funds, he added: “Internal finishing remains to be done. Also, when the project was floated in 2006, it included equipment costs. I am not very sure whether medical infrastructure has been ordered or procured.”

Ram Kumar Sinha, deputy secretary (health), insisted that nothing should be read between the lines. “The department felt it would be unfair to choose between just two bidders.” Asked why delay the project further like this, he decided to clam up.

Principal secretary (health) B.K. Tripathy was not available for comments on a Sunday.


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