Isolation block remains a non-starter at Government Hospital of Thoracic Medicine  

Even eight months after releasing the fund, the construction of isolation blocks for patients of infectious diseases is yet to start at GHTM in Thoppur and at three other sites in the State.

Published: 28th September 2021 10:57 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th September 2021 10:57 AM   |  A+A-

Cracks developed on the roof of the building that houses the isolation ward at Government Hospital of Thoracic Medicine, Thoppur.

Express News Service

MADURAI: Even eight months after releasing the fund, the construction of isolation blocks exclusively for patients of infectious diseases is yet to start at Government Hospital of Thoracic Medicine (GHTM) in Thoppur and at three other sites in the State, allegedly, due to the apathy of the Public Works Department (PWD).

In the news report titled 'Isolation facilities across Tamil Nadu coming soon', published on March 2, TNIE had highlighted the orders issued to establish one state-level isolation facility in Chennai and three regional-level isolation/quarantine facilities in Madurai, Coimbatore and Thanjavur districts to isolate, test and treat patients during epidemic outbreaks in the future.

The G.O. dated January 25 said, a sum of Rs 12 crore was sanctioned for establishing an exclusive isolation/quarantine facility at GHTM in Thoppur here.

While Rs 10 crore was allotted for the construction of a new building on the hospital premises, `2 crore was earmarked for the procurement of 17 kinds of testing and treatment equipment including high-end ventilators, defibrillators, RT-PCR machines, ELISA readers, cell counters.

The proposed two-storey will be able to accommodate 150 beds.

Dean of Government Rajaji Hospital (GRH), Dr A Rathinavel, said, "Though the sum was released, PWD is yet to float the tender for the construction works."

Resident Medical Officer of GHTM, Dr S Gandhimathinathan, refused to comment.

Admitting the delay on the part of PWD, Chief Engineer (Buildings) of PWD in Madurai, S Reghunathan, said, "PWD had originally proposed to construct the isolation facility at GHTM Thoppur at a cost of Rs 20 crore. However, the government issued orders sanctioning only Rs 12 crore. The schedule of revised plan rate was drafted to make up for the Rs 8 crore decrease in project value. But, due to the Assembly election notification, the paper works came to a halt."

The final drawings of the building were approved by the PWD chief architect in Chennai on July 15, said another PWD official.

Reghunathan assured, the tender will be floated this week.

Meanwhile, authorities at the Tambaram sanatorium, Coimbatore Medical College Hospital and at the TB sanatorium in Thanjavur district confirmed the tender is yet to be floated by PWD.

Dean of Coimbatore Medical College Hospital Dr A Nirmala said, "Officials of PWD neither approached me with any plan nor discussed the project. I have no idea about the site identified for the isolation facility."

Misappropriation of funds?

The Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, in its order dated March 7, urged hospitals across the State to "commence works for establishing isolation rooms immediately and complete them in 15 days on priority basis in anticipation of administrative sanction of funds."

The order also sanctioned a sum of Rs 96 lakh to GHTM at Thoppur to carry out civil and electrical works for the isolation wards.

A PWD staff, on condition of anonymity, said in a fully-constructed building, only renovation and electrical works such as erecting false ceilings, vinyl flooring, electrical works were carried out. "It would have incurred an expense of not more than Rs 30 lakh," he said.

Sources said, though the renovation works were completed in July 2020, within six months,  the ceiling of the building developed cracks and the roofs started leaking.

"The substandard quality of work and the huge difference between the funds allocated and actual spending have raised doubts on misappropriation of funds by the contractor who is the son of an AIADMK functionary and a few PWD officials," charged the staff.

Chief Engineer Reghunathan said he would personally inspect the site and rectification works would be taken up immediately.


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