Sunday, Nov 09, 2003
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By V. Geetanath
The new Gandhi Hospital building at Musheerabad in Hyderabad. Photo: K. Ramesh Babu
Increased bed strength, modern equipment and spacious surroundings are certainly a boon for patients and doctors, cramped as they were in the old buildings near the Secunderabad railway station. And, the sprawling 34 acres was obtained only after some debate and struggle.
However, before celebrations start there's some shocking news. The multi-storied buildings housing the general hospital and college are illegal structures! That's because they do not have an official sanction and the plans have not been approved by the Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad.
Neither is there a clearance from the Chief Engineer of the MCH nor was a No Objection Certificate taken from the Directorate of Fire Services, which in effect makes the buildings "unsafe."
As per the A.P. Fire Service Act 1999, anyone proposing to construct a high rise building for any purpose other than residential, should apply for issue of NOC even before submission of building plans to the municipal authorities concerned.
Though about Rs. 65 crores was spent on the construction of the hospital, college, hostels and staff quarters by the A.P. Health and Medical Infrastructure Development Corporation, it has not bothered to obtain building permissions from the civic body before starting construction. The hostels and college have already started functioning from the new premises.
It was only on July 25, 2003, that the building plan was put before the multi-storied building committee of the MCH, which realised to its surprise that the Executive Engineer of the APHMIDC had almost completed the works without even seeking its nod.
The committee had decided to the send a "detailed factual report to the Government for issuing necessary orders" as it was unable to accord permission to it.
The building committee has also noted that there was a shortfall of open space to an extent of 0.9 to 3 metres between the two blocks consisting of cellar, ground plus six upper floors, and it requires relaxation as per Government rules. And, as per the MCH building bylaws itself, permissions were mandatory for any new Government buildings.
Exemption, if any, can be given only for "operational constructions" and hospitals do not come under its purview.
If the Government is to follow its rules in letter and spirit, there is no escape route because as per its own Order 423 issued in 1998, it clearly states that "the Government or any other authority shall have no powers hereafter to relax any site from the provisions of the building stipulations either in parts or in full.''
Moreover, the new hospital and college buildings do not have proper access for the disabled and old people. The access audit report prepared by the Society for Equal Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities (Se'DoP) about the lack of appropriate ramps, handrails and the likes has been ignored.
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