Due to complexities over land acquisition, the construction of a Specialised Children's Hospital in Chattogram did not even start in five years. The project period has now ended.
Implementation of the project, undertaken by the health ministry in 2017, hit a roadblock at the very beginning, when the authorities discovered that the designated place for the hospital included an area the Chattogram Development Authority (CDA) used in its mega plan design to construct a riverfront road.
The Chattogram health administration could not tide over this complication even in five long years. Meanwhile, the project deadline expired in June.
It has been decided that the main building of the hospital will be constructed at the proposed site while abandoned places have been identified for the constructions of other necessary residential buildings. The plan has been forwarded to the planning ministry.
Rahul Guha, executive engineer, Public Works Department, Chattogram-1, told The Business Standard, "It is difficult to get two acres of land together in Chattogram. That is why from the beginning there was a complication regarding allocation of land for the children's hospital. The Karnaphuli Riverfront Road under the CDA Master Plan and Shah Amanat Bridge Connecting Road under the Roads and Highways Department are located at that designated place in Baklia. Of the two-acre land, 0. 54 acres have gone into these two roads."
As a result, building a full-fledged children's hospital and other necessary infrastructure became impossible on the reduced land area, he said.
"A design and a proposal have been sent to the Ministry of Health from the Directorate of Architecture along with the proposal for the construction of residential buildings, including Nurses Dormitory, Doctors Dormitory, Essential Staff Dormitory on the land of the office of the Divisional Director (Health)," Ruhul Guha said, adding, "If the ministry approves then the process will start. Expenditure details will be sought from the district administration for land acquisition. Besides, construction costs will also be calculated at the time."
Apart from greater Chattogram, people from Feni, Noakhali and Cumilla come to Chattogram Medical College Hospital for medical services. Besides, patients rely on Chattogram General Hospital for treatment. Although these two government hospitals have separate children's wards, there is no specialised children' s hospital in Chattogram. As a result, the two hospitals have no choice but to provide treatment to a large number of patients – often more than their capacity.
The Director of Chattogram Medical College (CHMEC) Hospital, Brigadier General Md Shamim Ahsan, told The Business Standard, "We have approval for 32 beds in the neonatal ward. Due to patients' flow, extra beds have been added to provide treatment to 100 patients. But on average, more than 200 newborns are provided with medical care here."
He added that against 17 beds in the children's ward, the hospital has arrangements for provision of treatment to 273 patients. However, more than 500 children receive treatment every day on average."
Apart from these two hospitals, another government hospital, with its 30-bed paediatric ward, provides treatment to hundreds of patients on a daily basis.
According to the District Civil Surgeon's office, the Ministry of Health approved the construction of a 200-bed specialised children's hospital in Chattogram in May 2017. Under the operational plan, titled Physical Facilities Development (PFD), the implementation period of the project was dated up to June 2022. Initially, an allocation of Tk 30 crore was made for acquisition of land for the construction of the hospital. After much search, the office of the District Civil Surgeon decided on two acres of land in Baklia and sent a proposal to this effect to the Ministry.
On 13 November 2018, the Construction Division of the Health Services Department gave administrative approval to the proposal. After that, issues over the place being in multiple designs led to the work getting stalled. The Chattogram Development Authority (CDA) applied for a no-objection letter to building a structure on that land.
Currently, in a part of that land, the project of Karnaphuli Riverfront Road under the CDA's master plan and Shah Amanat Bridge Connecting Road under the purview of Roads and Highways Department is under implementation.
For this reason, the CDA issued a no-objection letter in the case of acquisition of land for construction on 1.46 acres of land, excluding 0.54 54 acres. As the required land has shrunk by almost a quarter, there are fears whether the project will be implemented at all. Authorities concerned have held several meetings in the last two years to resolve the issue.
Last September 6, besides the construction of the main hospital building on the designated land of Baklia, a proposal for the construction of two buildings for the doctors, nurses and staff of the hospital on the abandoned 0.59 acre land of the office of the Divisional Director (Health) of Chattogram, located in Laldighi area of the city, was sent to the Ministry.
Chattogram District Civil Surgeon Dr Mohammad Ilyas Chowdhury told The Business Standard, "In Chattogram, two acres of land are hard to find together. Therefore, proposals have been sent to the ministry on how to do what can be done on that Baklia land. After that, it is the decision of the ministry and the government."
Chattogram Divisional Director (Health) Dr Md Sakhawat Ullah told The Business Standard, "Since no money was spent during the period, it is unlikely to be cancelled. The proposal for the construction of the hospital has been re-sent to the ministry. We are hoping to get positive feedback."