With an eye on the upcoming civic elections, the ruling Sena-BJP alliance is in a mad rush to inaugurate different civic projects — finished, unfinished and even those that have been operational for months now.
The civic body’s under-construction Shatabdi Hospital at Kandivli (West) elucidates this point further. In a hurry to inaugurate the hospital, the civic body has hastily set up a makeshift Out Patient Department (OPD) at a cost of Rs56 lakh on a structure that was built to serve as a cafeteria and canteen for the hospital later.
Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray had performed the bhoomipujan in October 2006. Five years on, the hospital structure is not yet ready. And in a desperate attempt to show development, a cafeteria connected with the main hospital building has been converted into an OPD so that the hospital can be inaugurated before the code of conduct comes into force.
Last week, the Sena-dominated civic standing committee even sanctioned money to foot the bill for conversion of canteen into an OPD.
When the HT correspondent visited the building, the cafeteria, including its kitchen was almost ready but work at the main hospital building was in progress. A senior official from building proposal department said that the civic work is over. “Just plaster work on the outside and electrical work remains and is expected to be complete in 10 months, after which a full-fledged hospital will thrown open.”
Additional municipal commissioner Rajiv Jalota said that this is not a temporary change. “We will use the cafeteria building as OPD,” he said.
An official from the health department, however, said, “The idea behind building a separate cafeteria building was to provide a safe and hygienic eating space to outpatients, medical staff and attendants, away from the main hospital.” The plan to shift OPD to the cafeteria, however, seems to have defeated this purpose.
Slamming Sena’s bid to inaugurate the Irla and Haji Ali pumping stations, which have been functioning since last year, Congress corporator Vinod Shekhar said this is a desperate attempt to woo voters. Shiv Sena leader and chairman of the civic standing committee Rahul Shewale said, “It will be just a formal ‘Lokarpan’ function and there’s nothing wrong in it.”