the project period ends without progress
Due to the complexity of land acquisition, construction of a specialist pediatric hospital in Chattogram did not even begin in five years. The project period is now over.
Implementation of the project, undertaken by the Ministry of Health in 2017, hit a snag in the early stages, when authorities discovered that the designated location for the hospital included an area that the Chattogram Development Authority (CDA) had used in the design of its megaplan to build a waterfront road.
Chattogram health administration could not overcome this complication even in five long years. Meanwhile, the project deadline expired in June.
It has been decided that the main hospital building will be constructed on the proposed site while abandoned places have been identified for the construction of other necessary residential buildings. The plan has been forwarded to the Ministry of Planning.
Rahul Guha, Executive Engineer, Department of Public Works, Chattogram-1, told The Business Standard, “It is difficult to get two acres of land together in Chattogram. That is why, from the beginning, there was a complication regarding land allocation for children hospital.Karnaphuli Riverside Road under CDA Master Plan and Shah Amanat Bridge Connecting Road under Department of Roads and Highways are located at this designated place in Baklia. Of the two acre land, 0.54 acres have been given over to these two roads.”
As a result, building a full-fledged children’s hospital and other necessary infrastructure has become impossible on the small area, he said.
“A design and proposal has been sent to the Ministry of Health by the architecture directorate with the proposal for the construction of residential buildings, including the nurses’ dormitory, the doctors’ dormitory, the essential field staff dormitory from the office of the Divisional Director (Health),” Ruhul Guha said, adding, “If the ministry approves, the process will start. construction costs will also be calculated at that time”.
Besides the greater Chattogram, the people of Feni, Noakhali and Cumilla come to Chattogram Medical College Hospital for medical services. Also, patients rely on Chattogram General Hospital for their treatment. Although these two public hospitals have separate pediatric departments, there is no specialized pediatric hospital in Chittagong. As a result, the two hospitals have no choice but to provide care for a large number of patients – often more than their capacity.
Director of Chattogram Medical College (CHMEC) Hospital, Brigadier General Md Shamim Ahsan, told The Business Standard: “We have approval for 32 beds in the neonatology ward. Due to the flow of patients, additional beds were added to provide treatment for 100 people. But on average, more than 200 newborns receive medical care here.
He added that against 17 beds in the children’s ward, the hospital has made arrangements to provide care for 273 patients. Yet more than 500 children receive treatment every day on average.”
Besides these two hospitals, another government hospital, with its 30-bed pediatric ward, treats hundreds of patients daily.
According to the District Civil Physician’s Office, the Ministry of Health approved the construction of a 200-bed specialist pediatric hospital in Chattogram in May 2017. Under the operational plan, titled Physical Facilities Development (PFD), the Implementation period of the project was dated till June 2022. Initially, an allocation of Tk 30 crore was made for the acquisition of land for the construction of the hospital. After much research, the district civil doctor’s office decided to purchase two acres of land in Baklia and sent a proposal to that effect to the ministry.
On November 13, 2018, the Construction Division of the Department of Health Services gave administrative approval to the proposal. After that, problems with the presence of several designs led to the blocking of work. The Chattogram Development Authority (CDA) has requested a letter of no objection to building a structure on this land.
Currently, in part of this land, the project of Karnaphuli Riverfront Road under CDA Master Plan and Shah Amanat Bridge Connecting Road under Department of Roads and Highways is being implemented.
For this reason, the CDA has issued a notice of no objection in the event of the acquisition of a building plot on 1.46 arpents of land, excluding 0.54 54 arpents. As the required land has decreased by almost a quarter, there are fears that the project will not be implemented. The relevant authorities have held several meetings over the past two years to resolve the issue.
Last September 6, in addition to the construction of the main building of the hospital on the designated land of Baklia, a proposal to construct two buildings for the doctors, nurses and staff of the hospital on the abandoned land of 0.59 acre of Chattogram Divisional Director (Health) office, located in the Laldighi area of the city, was sent to the ministry.
Chittagong District Civil Surgeon Dr Mohammad Ilyas Chowdhury told The Business Standard: “In Chittagong, two acres of land are hard to find together. Therefore, proposals have been sent to the ministry on how to do what can be done on this land of Baklia. That is the decision of the ministry and the government.”
Chittagong (Health) Division Director Dr Md Sakhawat Ullah told The Business Standard: “As no money has been spent during this period, it is unlikely to be cancelled. The proposed construction of the hospital has been returned to the ministry. We hope to have positive feedback.”