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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

MCD-run hospital is latest political flashpoint as Delhi govt orders safety probe

Jain further said photos showing the dilapidated state of the hospital were quite disturbing.

Written by Abhinav Rajput | New Delhi |
Updated: January 2, 2022 1:40:59 am
The MCD itself has declared the building unsafe for human habitation.

Stating that the North MCD-run Rajan Babu tuberculosis hospital was found to be unsafe for human habitation, health and urban development minister Satyendar Jain Saturday ordered the Additional Chief Secretary (Urban Development) to immediately investigate “for vacation and sealing” of the premises.

“It has been brought to my notice that the building of Rajan Babu TB hospital run by the North MCD is in a dilapidated state. The MCD itself has declared the building unsafe for human habitation… Despite that, the hospital is being run and the lives of patients, attendants and staff are being put in danger. It seems the building may collapse at any time… For the safety of human lives… immediate enquiry may be conducted for vacation and sealing of the building,” a note by the minister read.

It seems the building may collapse any time, said Jain.

Jain said photos showing the dilapidated state of the hospital were “disturbing”.

The matter was highlighted by AAP MLA Atishi, who made a surprise visit to the hospital on Thursday, which was followed by a political slugfest between the Delhi government and the BJP-led civic body. “The BJP-controlled North MCD’s hospital building is a disaster in waiting; it can collapse any time and take numerous lives,” she had said.

North MCD Mayor Raja Iqbal Singh hit out at Jain and said the order “reflects the politically biased attitude of the government… the minister should have sought an administrative report from the hospital administration or North MCD commissioner on the status of the building. But he chooses to bypass the lawful system…”

The Mayor said under the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act 2012, only MCDs have the power to survey and declare any building dangerous and, in this case, the North MCD had already passed necessary orders declaring a portion of the building uninhabitable.

The civic body has ordered a structural safety audit of the building. Standing committee chairperson of North MCD Jogi Ram Jain said they have sought a report from IIT-Roorkee on the safety of the building, which is awaited: “The corporation is passing through a financial crisis due to which it has not been able to immediately start repairs. There are barricades to ensure that people don’t venture out front.”

The dilapidated block visited by Atishi is situated separately on the campus, spread over more than 60 acres, he added.

At the spot

With 700 beds, Rajan Babu is one of the biggest hospitals under the North MCD and it employs a staff of around 50 doctors. Around 100 patients are admitted.

Jain said photos showing the dilapidated state of the hospital were quite disturbing.

As one enters the building, at least five boards with the same warning greet visitors: “This building is dangerous, going ahead is prohibited.” Each floor has one to two halls, with patients in them. There is also a room for medical staff on each floor.

On the top floor, an area has been marked as a ‘no entry zone’ and sports the same warning board. A staff member at the hospital said plaster began falling out in one of the halls on this floor around two months ago, following which it was vacated.

In the second hall on the same floor, around 20 patients are admitted. “We have been here for a month, my relative has been admitted here for a lung problem,” said Islamuddin, who lives in Jahangirpuri.

A staffer said at least three complaints have been given in the past year: “Most of the original construction in the hospital is around 50 years old; it needs to be demolished instead of being repaired from time to time.”

Asked about the warning signages installed in front of the structure, Jain, the standing committee chairperson, said, “Yes, the boards have been placed, but a generic term is used, whether a building is fully or partially damaged.” He also claimed that Atishi “blew things out of proportion”.

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