Haryana`s low cost healthcare for all plan stillborn

Rohtak (Haryana): Low cost health for all at the doorstep! The Haryana dream seems to be over before it began.

Having failed to get polyclinics across the state operational even after setting up the buildings, the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) has proposed that the structures be auctioned to the private sector.

The state governments`s plans to set up scores of polyclinics across the state was a virtual non-starter with the health department unable to install either the required infrastructure or get the requisite manpower. The result: the move to have health institutions at the doorstep has come a cropper.

In 2009, the state government planned to set up the polyclinics to provide medical facilities free of cost to residents of various HUDA colonies and sectors and adjoining areas across Haryana. By 2011, the buildings were completed, but there was little action after that, with health authorities not taking possession.

And now, HUDA officials have sent a proposal to their headquarters at Panchkula, near Chandigarh, to auction the buildings to the private sector.

The auction proposal originates from Rohtak, home district of Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda. His son, Deepinder Singh Hooda, represents the Rohtak parliamentary seat in the Lok Sabha.

Chander Prakash, HUDA administrator at Rohtak, told IANS: "The auction is likely to be held through an open bid in the month of June and the preparations have been initiated. The reserve price for bidding at the auction is being finalised. The proposal for auction, however, is yet to be approved by HUDA`s head office."

Prakash was hopeful of an early approval as senior officers of HUDA were in favour of the decision to auction the buildings.

"Since the polyclinic buildings were not being taken over by the health authorities responsible for making the facilities operational, it was decided to bring them to auction."

Rohtak Civil Surgeon V.K. Gowila retorted that he had asked the health department for providing staff and equipment, but they had not reverted to him till date.

"Since the matter is pending before the headquarters, I cannot say anything in this regard," Gowila said.

Around 40 staffers, including doctors, nurses, technicians and non-technical staff, along with basic medical facilities, are required to properly run a polyclinic.

Medical facilities, including gynaecological, dental, X-Ray, ultrasound and ECG tests as well as a modern laboratory, were to be made available in the proposed polyclinics so that people didn`t have to travel long distances to the civil hospital for minor ailments.

HUDA`s decision to auction the buildings has not gone down well with residents.

Said Azad Singh Ahlawat, a resident of Sector 3: "It would be a major setback to the residents of HUDA if the polyclinic buildings are auctioned. Residents are eagerly awaiting better medical health facilities at their doorstep.

Added Suresh Singal, another resident: "It will be cheating us if the polyclinics are auctioned. These would be instrumental in providing better medical facilities to residents. HUDA should not approve the proposal to auction."