KOCHI: On August 18, 2014, when the foundation stone was laid for an advanced cancer research institute in Kochi by then Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, the facility was expected to become a reality in 24 months. Now after five years, the institute has still not become fully operational, which means cancer patients in central Kerala will have to continue travelling over 230 km to the Regional Cancer Centre in Thiruvananthapuram.
According to members of the Justice V R Krishna Iyer Movement, which volunteered to set up the Cochin Cancer Research Centre (CCRC), the centre's top officials have not given the nod to make use of the facilities already set up at the institute. According to a source, even after submitting the culture report for different sites including surgical tables in the operation theatre, authorities are reluctant to conduct operations and surgeries at CCRC.
"The culture report, which is filed after testing for the presence of microorganisms, conducted for 15 different sites including chairs and surgical tables came back negative. The test was conducted by microbiologists three months ago," said a source.
Meanwhile, the construction activities of the proposed state-of-the-art infrastructure facility on the premises of Government Medical College, Kalmassery, are yet to be completed. "The reason for the delay in the project, which will benefit patients greatly, is unclear. We have the expertise of nationally acclaimed oncologists and highly skilled surgeons and yet we fail to use their full potential," said Dr Sanil Kumar, a member of the movement.
Construction is progressing at a slow pace, making patients in central Kerala disheartened. Though the in-patient wing was completed in February, with the capacity to admit at least 20 patients at a time, not much of the facility could be used by the patients.
In a recent review meeting conducted by District Collector S Suhas on Friday, P&C Projects Private Limited was given 15 more days to complete the pending works. "P&C Projects failed to undertake the construction work on time. Therefore, they have been given a warning to complete the work within 15 days and, if not, termination proceedings will be initiated," said a source.
INKEL Limited, the agency entrusted with the work, has sublet the civil construction works to P&C Projects. "Only 11 per cent of the construction has been carried out at CCRC. P&C Projects had cited a lack of workforce as the reason, but even after increasing the labour force, they have not been able to complete the targets set for each month," said Sanil.
"The company has increased the number of labourers and we are expecting that the pending works to be completed within the allotted time. As of now, chemotherapy and surgeries take place at Ernakulam Medical College as per an MoU signed in 2018 . With the approval of the District Collector, more nurses and doctors have been appointed at CCRC," said Dr Mony Kuriakose, CCRC director.