KOCHI: The Public Works Department (PWD) is building a multi-storey hospital!
Yes, you heard it right. But does the PWD, which is chiefly into building roads, have the expertise to construct a hospital?
A chief engineer with the department accused its architectural wing of not having a qualified and experienced hand to build a modern hospital. M Pennamma, the PWD (buildings) chief engineer, made the revelation in a reply affidavit before the Kerala High Court to justify the award of consultancy to an outside agency for setting up a medical college at Haripad.
Pennamma approached the court seeking to quash the FIR registered against her by the Vigilance Department for alleged misappropriation in awarding the contract.
“Everything I wanted to say has been included in the affidavit,” Pennamma told Express.
The affidavit stated the existing facility in the department was insufficient for the work for which the tender was invited. The architectural wing of the PWD was not the agency which had completed the consultancy and design work of the government medical colleges in Idukki, Konni, Kasargod, Palakkad and Thiruvananthapuram. For these medical colleges, applications were invited externally and the architectural design was not entrusted with the PWD architectural wing.
Designing of the medical college complex at Haripad requires expertise.
“The architectural wing of the PWD does not possess such expertise,” she said in the affidavit.
The hospital campus consists of many segments of infrastructure such as medical college, administrative blocks, residential units, IP blocks and many other buildings and hospital services. These are to be implemented in a phased manner. Therefore, a master plan is inevitable and the land available should be intelligently utilised.
The total design of the master plan of a medical college with 100 PG students, with the addition of 150 more in the future, a research facility and a 300-bed super specialty hospital, apart from the master plan of the entire campus, cannot be entrusted with the architectural wing of the department on an experimental basis.
Pennamma said the building wing is facing difficulties in meeting the requirements in the five medical college buildings managed by the PWD. She cited the example of the condition of the administrative block of the dental college, Kottayam, and also the consultancy block of the medical college there.
Sufficient floor height was not given for the dental college building to accommodate the AC duct in the architectural planning. The design wing failed to provide two columns for the two lift core structures of the administrative block. The improper air conditioning will become detrimental to patients as it is the main factor in controlling the infection level inside the hospital.
The architectural wing has not done integrated services designs in special buildings till date. Due to these lapses, a lot of repair work and maintenance have been the responsibility of the PWD building wing for years, the affidavit stated.