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PGI chokes on facelift, gasps for air

india Updated: Sep 18, 2006 00:37 IST

THE RECENT fire at the Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPGIMS) has once again brought the objectionable renovation works to the fore. “SGPGIMS building that came up two decades ago is already unsafe. But, now renovation is making it even more so. It is an irony that now when fire safety has become a big issue, this new work is fire-unsafe,” said a faculty member.

Those who are opposed to the renovation say that the work is converting the institute into an airtight box. The renovation work has two major aspects—dismantling of mosaic walls and its replacement by tiles and dismantling of iron windows by airtight aluminum widows.

The windows are hogging the post-fire issue. As after the fire air-conditioning system has failed. And in the absence of air condition, there is no ventilation in the building. Doctors and patients are incessantly complaining of suffocation. “It’s difficult to be in the building as it is like a gas chamber. There is no fresh air inside,” said a surgeon sitting in his department office.

The original iron window panels had three elements—fly-proof iron mesh, iron grille and glass windows on hinges. In the case of failure of power or air conditioners these windows could be opened for ventilation. However, now the original window panels have been replaced with ‘air-tight’ windows. These windows are such that they cannot be opened. “They are only light windows. They are not air windows,” said a faculty member.

“We had raised objections to this. The issue was brought to the notice of the state government. But noting happened. And the fire proved our point right,” said an employees’ association office- bearer.

It’s about two-and-a-half month ago that the renovation work began. And immediately, various sections of staff lodged their objection to the work. The issue was also discussed in the Governing Body meeting two-and-a half months ago. The director promised to stop the work. However, it never happened and the work continued till the fire incident on Wednesday.

About three months ago the State Government had sanctioned Rs 9 crore to the Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPGIMS) for repairs of the spots that have suffered wear and tear over the years. The institute’s administration, instead of using the funds for what they were meant, has pumped them into unwarranted renovation. 

The situation at the institute continues to be grim after the fire as still major medical services including surgeries are totally crippled.