Despite being inaugurated by then Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on February 10 2014, the basic facilities like nursing college, auditorium, cardiac OPD, trauma centre and blood bank are still eluding AIIMS Rishikesh. What is more, three directors have changed over the past four years. The first batch of MBBS students is ready to pass out next year from the institute that remains bereft of the basic facilities a government hospital of such importance must have. Notably, the foundation stone of the facility was laid way back in 2004 by then Union health minister Sushma Swaraj when ND Tiwari was the chief minister. Regrettably enough, though 13 years have passed since the construction work started it is far from complete. Spread over 100 acres of land, the cost of the project was pegged at Rs 860 crore initially. However, with things dragging for years, the cost has escalated to over Rs 1000 crore. This year, the Centre has allocated Rs 280 crore.
Residential facility for only 150 staff members has been made so far while the staff strength is 500. Besides, the quality of the construction is so bad that rain water seeps through the ceilings. This is what is forcing most of the doctors to stay outside the hospital premises on rent. Even the director of AIIMS is staying in a guesthouse with no facility available inside the premises. Except for the building of medical college, the upper part of OPD is still under construction. Those residing in the premises say that the tiles are loosening on the floors. “The condition of the room used for registering the patients is very bad. The construction materials used are of such a bad quality that things look precarious when it rains torrentially. Anything might happen anytime. We wonder who would own responsibility for such a shabby state of things prevailing in the premier health facility of the region. The project aroused great hope among the people when it was initiated. However, things going from bad to worse, they are a frustrated lot,” said a doctor working for the facility while insisting on anonymity.
Things are such that the hospital is left with one medical store facility to cater to the needs of thousands of patients who throng it daily from far- off places. A patient Sarita Kumari from Nazibabad said while talking to The Pioneer, “We have suggested for opening another medical store but in vain. The medicines are cheap, but the queue is so long that the whole day passes without the number coming.” With the chairs and the benches in the OPD waiting area being far less than what is required, most of the patients lie on the floor during OPD times.
Asked about the main units of the hospital like Emergency and ICU being non-operational, Dean of AIIMS Dr Surekha Kishore said, “We have started the emergency and trauma centre recently for Char Dham pilgrims. By the end of November, a fully-functional ICU would be made available to the patients. The bed capacity of the hospital is also expected to be enhanced by the end of this year for 1000 patients.”