Jhikka Gali Hospital: Three high-key inaugurations equal zero progress

Official says law prohibits construction on forestland.

Obaid Abbasi October 27, 2013
The goundbreaking ceremony took place for the third time during Shahbaz Sharif’s previous tenure as CM. PHOTO: EXPRESS


After seven long years and three high key inaugurations, construction of a hospital in Jhika Gali still remains the locals’ unfulfilled dream.

As public health facilities remain unreachable for residents of the area, construction of the 150-bed hospital, four kilometres away from Murree needs to be initiated without further ado.

The project has already had more than its fair share of ceremonies. In 2006, former President Pervez Musharraf inaugurated the project, for which the then-government had acquired total 380 kanals of forestland at a cost of Rs4 billion. It saw its second inauguration at the hands of former Chief Minister (CM) Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi in 2008 and lastly, in June 2009, current CM Shahbaz Sharif inaugurated the project. Seven years on, the project remains nothing but a testament to the hollowness of the political ceremonies.

Only two public hospitals are currently functional in Murree Tehsil namely Civil Hospital Murree (CHM) and Combine Military Hospital (CMH), both located in main Murree city, far from the common man’s access due to the difficult terrain.

Sources close to the development told The Express Tribune that a certain amount from the funds allocated to the project were transferred to Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology (RIC) while some of it was used in Chakri Village, the constituency of Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan. “Lack of interest by the ruling PML-N towards Murree is causing the delay,” said the source.

Muhammad Usman Abbasi, a resident of Jhika Gali, criticised the provincial government for delaying the project and termed it a failure on the government’s part. “Shahbaz Sharif had promised its completion in one year when he inaugurated the project. But he also failed,” Abbasi lamented.

About the delay, Provincial Minister for Labour and Human Resources Raja Ashfaq Sarwar, who also happens to be the Member of Provincial Assembly from the area, seemed annoyed by questions and said, “It is not my responsibility to tell about the reasons. Talk instead to my brother, Raja Atiq Sarwar” he arrogantly shouted over the phone, adding, “Instead of questioning me, you should be thankful I even picked your call.”

Interestingly, District Heath Officer (DHO) Rawalpindi Dr Khalid Randhawa, who is suppose to have knowledge of the project’s status, said he could not answer the questions relating to the matter without looking into the file of the project first.  All he could come up with was statement saying “as per the law, the department could not use forestland for the project.”

Published in The Express Tribune, October 27th, 2013.


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