The buildings department has issued a notice to the management of Government Allama Iqbal Memorial DHQ Hospital to demolish the hospital’s TB Ward, nursing hostel buildings and 15 residential houses of doctors within a week.
According to hospital officials, the demolition drive will take place so that a new building for the Khawaja Safdar Medical College can be established in place of the hospital wards. Several hospital officials have appealed that the demolition will prove to be a loss of millions of rupees for the provincial government. “The DHQ hospital is already facing a shortage of space and the wards are overcrowded. Now we will be losing a ward as well as other buildings. The government should build the college on other land adjacent to the hospital but shouldn’t tear down existing buildings,” said DHQ hospital administration official Liaqat Chaudhery.
Hospital officials said the DHQ hospital was already facing a space shortage with regards to accommodating hospital doctors, paramedics and other staff. “Getting rid of residential houses is a step too far,” he said. The official said that a new well-equipped hall and auditorium would be established by spending millions of rupees after the demolition of TB Ward, nursing hostel buildings and 15 residential houses of the doctors. “I don’t see why the government could not build the new college on other land. The hospital caters to the immediate needs of the community and rebuilding will take too much time,” hospital worker Mujtaba Zaka said.
The notice served to the hospital management also reveals that the above mentioned TB Ward, nursing hostel buildings and 15 houses of the doctors need to be evacuated immediately to ensure their early demolition within a week. “I only received the notice two days ago. We were not informed in time and now I am expected to move out of my house within a week,” said Dr Sher Gul Nawaz. Most of the doctors living in the houses marked for demolition have been deputed on emergency duties. “Our jobs involve critical care and round-the-clock work. Relocating and moving will compromise the working of the ER,” Dr Rehman said.
District officials said that the demolition and reconstruction would drain the public exchequer. “The provincial government will have to bear extra expenditure as it will need to pay house rent for staff, paramedics and doctors and we don’t yet know how long the reconstruction will take,” a district administration official said.
Local social, religious and political circles have expressed grave concern over the situation. Several protesters said that the demolition drive might mean closure of one hospital wing for several weeks and that this would severely compromise patient care. Area residents have urged Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to shelve the project of establishing the building of Govt Khawaja Safdar Medical College in the larger public interest or to relocate the project.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 17th, 2011.