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Deadline challenge for health cradle

The construction firm for the AIIMS-Patna project has claimed that the Centre’s announcement to start the health hub by December was impossible to meet.

Union health minister Harsh Vardhan on June 21 had said the health hub would be opened to the public on December 25, the birthday of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He called for the work to be expedited.

Employees of BL Kashyap & Sons Company, however, said the deadline was impossible to meet. According to them, the health ministry has given a one-sided statement without consultation with the firm.

The employees claimed that a lot of work was yet to be completed and would require time. Sources said the ministry has been told that the work can be completed by March next year, only if there were no more bottlenecks.

B.N. Pandey, general manager, BL Kashyap & Sons Company, went on to say that Union health minister Harsh Vardhan’s announcement was a politically motivated statement and nothing to do with the ground reality.

He told The Telegraph: “The health ministry held a meeting with the contractors engaged in the work of the six new AIIMS on July 2. The bottlenecks in the AIIMS-Patna project were discussed with the ministry officials. We requested an extension but were told that deadline fixed was final. It is impossible for us to get the work done in the time frame given. A lot of work is still to be done and we don’t have the full co-operation of the ministry.”

The health hub director, G.K. Singh, said around 70 per cent of the work is still left.

Among the roadblocks, Pandey said: “Sketches of the buildings — another firm has been engaged for this work — are not being handed over to us in time. We also have not received Rs 15 crore additional mobilisation funds from the ministry. We had requested for the amount three months ago to expedite the construction work. In this situation, we won’t be able to complete the project by December 25.”

Shashi Bhushan Kumar, who is part of the three-member committee appointed by Patna High Court to look into the progress of construction, also said the project’s completion by December was a far-fetched idea.

He said: “Going by the pace of construction, it looks impossible that AIIMS-Patna would be completed within the deadline. It’s another thing that the Union health ministry is claiming that it would complete the project by then. Most of the equipment has still not arrived and most of the construction work remains incomplete.”

Director Singh sounded hopeful about most of the work being completed by the deadline but he dodged the question on the deadline.

“We are hoping that we would be able to finish most of the work before the deadline even though a lot of work is left. The buildings meant for the outpatient department, inpatient department and trauma centre have not yet been handed over to us. At present, we only have the building of Ayush and pulmonary medicine rehabilitation out of which we are running the outpatient and inpatient services. Construction of 30 operating theatres is yet to be complete. HLL, the firm engaged to buy equipment, has used around 10 per cent of the Rs 200 crore meant for the job. Also, of 305 assigned posts, only 60 faculty members have been recruited. So, we are not in the position to run 24x7 emergency services.”


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