CHENNAI: A hospital building is missing. Sounds weird? It’s true, going by the official response to an RTI petition. In Mathur MMDA area, a hospital was constructed for the 50,000-odd residents under a World Bank assisted project. Now, the hospital building has been demolished and the ‘public purpose’ land on which it stood has changed hands to a private realtor. Permission to demolish the building was given by the Corporation last year, reveal RTI replies.
The permission was given based on a sale deed for the public purpose land, which makes no mention of the building. While Corporation maintains that the land would be used for a hospital, residents say no such assurance has been given as the property now belongs to a private party.“If the plan was to have a hospital, why did they demolish the existing building, which was constructed especially for that purpose?” asks CM Ramesh, a member of the Mathur MMDA welfare association.
Apart from the World Bank funds, residents say they had paid ‘development charges’ for the facility when they purchased plots in the scheme area. Though the building was constructed in 1992, it remained non-functional during its entire existence. As residents kept rallying for the hospital to be set up, the Rotary Club offered to invest Rs 19 lakh towards development of hospital infrastructure in the building. “Even before the plan was finalised, the hospital building was sold off by the Housing Board,” says RS Babu, another member of the association.
Sale deeds & bad deeds
A copy of the sale deed given to residents as part of the RTI response makes no mention of the hospital building which stood on the plot measuring almost three grounds. However, sale deeds of other residents who own plot in the same area mentions the nature of building attached to the land. The permission for demolition states that approval had been granted for the demolition of existing building at ‘clinic site’.
Residents in the area have poor access to healthcare facilities. The nearest ones are the urban hospital in Manali and the health centre at Madhavaram Milk Colony. “The Manali hospital is already overcrowded,” says Lalitha Raghavan, a resident. “The Madhavaram health centre, we have heard, has no doctors at night… Even child births are taken care of by attenders.” When contacted, the Corporation officials concerned said they would look into the issue.
On the sale of the public purpose building and the land, a TNHB official said, “The individual purchased two sites. One of them was an empty public purpose site which has been sold after following due procedure. However, I don’t know how the site which had the hospital building was sold. I have to look into the details of the case.”