Construction of basic hospital put on hold for lack of budgetThe construction of a 15-bed hospital in Lekhpokhara, Chhatreshwari Rural Municipality-5, started a year and a half ago but the contractor company has stopped work citing non-payment.
The construction of a 15-bed hospital at Lekhpokhara in Chhatreswori Rural Municipality-5, Salyan started a year and a half ago after the federal government allocated a budget for the same.
However, the construction work has been on halt for the past eight months since the contractor has refused to continue work stating non-payment of work done so far.
In 2019, Prakash Jwala, the then finance minister of Karnali Province, laid the foundation stone of the hospital building. Almost a year and a half later, in June 2021, the municipality opened a tender for the construction of the hospital. The contract for the project was given to Galwa Menka JV Company with the deadline set for 2024.
According to Nara Bahadur Pun, a local resident, the contractor company started work in September 2021 but stopped working one month later. The contractor dug up the foundation and built gabion walls in some sections before he left the worksite.
“The government implemented the programme of providing health services from specialist doctors by constructing a 15-bed basic hospital for the benefit of the locals in the area,” said Pun. “There is a primary health centre in Lekhpokhari, which has been in operation for more than a decade. Even though there is a doctor’s post, there is no doctor. We have to go all the way to the district hospital in Sharda Municipality, which is an hour’s drive away, even for minor ailments.”
According to Rajaram Rijal, an engineer of Chhatreswari Municipality, work on the hospital was halted because of a lack of budget. The rural municipality did not receive the amount required to pay the contractor company. Chief Administrative Officer Premprakash Dahal said that the work has been stopped as the federal government did not allocate adequate budget for the project.
According to Dahal, the government had earlier allocated Rs 18 million for the construction of the hospital. “But the allocated money has not arrived so we couldn’t pay the contractor,” he said.
Pramod Shrestha, head of Galwa Menka JV Company, said that the project cost more than Rs 10 million in the first phase. “We asked for an advance payment but the municipality could not pay us. We had no option but to stop work,” he said.
Dharmaraj Khadka, a local resident, said that not only the contractor company but even the concerned authorities have shown no interest in the construction of the hospital. Even though Finance Minister Janardan Sharma said in his budget speech on May 29 that work on all basic hospitals would be taken forward, not much is being done to complete the construction of the basic hospital in Lekhpokhara.
Bir Bahadur Oli, in-charge of the primary health centre at Lekhpokhara in Chhatreswori Rural Municipality-5, said that the construction company had only started work on half the land selected for the hospital.
“There is no sign of construction work on the other half of the land,” he said. “Access to health services from expert doctors from a fully equipped hospital is necessary for the well-being of the locals. This hospital would have provided relief to the locals who have been waiting to receive proper health services in their own village.”
The construction of basic hospitals started in eight out of 10 local units in the district but none of them has gained momentum due to a lack of budget.