A government hospital off Hyderabad is crumbling, almost literally. It could collapse anytime, engineers apprehend. But not many seem to care.
Hyderabad, capital of the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, is touted as an IT destination.
The Government General and Chest Hospital of Patancheru is situated not far from the capital and a noted centre of bulk drug manufacture.
As the manufacturers leave behind a toxic mess in their pursuit of dollars, it is the people who are paying a heavy price in terms of their health.
A study by Greenpeace in nine villages in the Patancheru industrial area three years ago revealed "abnormally high incidence" of pollution-related diseases like cancer, respiratory and heart diseases caused by "cocktail of poisons in air, water and land".
It is the hospital catering to the needs of the people such a region, declared an environmental hotspot, that is threatening to come apart.
Just over a decade back, the State Government had converted Government Chest Hospital, Erragadda, into Government General and Chest Hospital, claiming to improve the healthcare services to the people.
The new hospital was described as an alternative to the prestigious Osmania and Gandhi General Hospitals in the state capital. However, since then, with no support from the government, it has struggled to add more departments pertaining to other branches of medicine.
In effect, the hospital has remained just a chest hospital, not 'general.' Very recently, a care and support centre for HIV patients and few more specialties including Endocrinology, Dermatology and Cardiology were introduced. However, none of these departments are in full-fledged working condition, for want of staff and equipment.
But a much more serious issue is the condition of the hospital buildings. An older wing of the complex was declared 'unfit' for occupation by Civil Engineering department of Andhra Pradesh Medical, Housing and Infrastructure Development Corporation (APHMIDC).
"The old building has to be vacated soon and shifted somewhere else. We are waiting for a firm decision from the Government in this aspect," an official at the hospital said.
A Rs.45 crore plan for a complex befitting the 'general hospital' status has been hanging fire for too long.
The same official revealed that there were no funds even to attend to the repairs in a water tank that caters to the entire complex.
"It is a 100-year-old water tank. We are scared it could crumble any time. Proposals and reminders are sent time and again to authorities, but to no effect. May be they will wake up only when some accident strikes here. It's a terribly anxious time for all of us here," he said.