Treacherous journey from paradise to hell

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 14 May 2017 09:49:22

Staff Reporter,

Despite cracking of whip by High Court against unauthorised constructions of hospitals in Dhantoli, very little has changed. The sense of anguish persists over thoughtless action of NMC permitting hundreds of hospitals in prime localities like Ramdaspeth and Dhantoli ignoring public protests. In the process the civic authorities made complete mockery of development plan and town planning norms

Very rarely one finds the elite section of society protesting against a necessary evil like ‘hospital’ in the vicinity. But when every lane and by-lane is dotted with hospitals, clinics, rush of patients, siren blowing ambulances, worried relatives, blood banks, X-ray clinics, pathology labs, heart clinics, can the locality ever retain its original character, peace and tranquillity?

Absolutely thoughtless decision of Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) to allow hundred and fifty hospitals in Ramdaspeth, Dhantoli and Congress Nagar localities, mostly during last one decade has irked the peace loving citizens who are naturally cursing the Town Planning department, NMC bosses and their own elected representatives for meekly consenting to this brazen assault on their localities. People are at their wit’s end to live with 156 hospitals (85 in Dhantoli alone) and 650 consulting chambers of doctors in Dhantoli and Ramdaspeth. Cluster of hospitals in one locality may be good business, but it is definitely a sign of bad planning and poses danger to health and safety of residents.

Dhantoli and Ramdaspeth residents are undergoing unbearable miseries due to thoughtless sanctioning of hospitals and have also knocked the doors of High Court to stop this torture again and again. Recently, a hospital building in Dhantoli damaged public road. When the area residents moved the High Court against it, the court had to order a status quo and restoration of the road in 12 hours.

Some 18 months ago, High Court had directed NMC to immediately demolish the unauthorised construction of hospitals and free their parking spaces for public parking, the residents thought that they won at least the first round. After dithering for months, NMC finally conducted survey and found that most of the 85 hospitals situated in Dhantoli have violated parking space either for pharmacy, waiting room or for OPD chambers. But barring cosmetic action, precious little has been done by NMC. High Court time and again pulled the civic authorities and traffic police, but except token actions like one-sided parking notification, jamming wrongly parked vehicles on some stretches, the real probelm has not been addressed.

Presence of so many hospitals and resultant problem of parking, traffic congestion, rush of relatives, dead bodies, foul smell, medical waste has changed these prime residential areas into a living hell, according to old timers. The gloomy atmosphere has spoiled the areas like Dhantoli, Ramdaspeth, once known for their vibrant social life.

In the heart of controversy lies the absolute callous approach of Town Planning Department which granted permission to so many hospitals in such a short period, overlooking health hazard and protests of residents. By this one measure, the entire planning of yesteryears has been thrown into the dustbin. The road, parking places, open breathing space, sewage lines and even roads were constructed for essentially residential locality.

But the hospitals get additional Floor Space Index (FSI) and mushrooming of so many hospitals within one sq km area of Dhantoli and Ramdaspeth areas has made mockery of development plan and development control regulations.
Earlier, spacious and sprawling bungalows were hallmarks of Dhantoli and Ramdaspeth, but the old residents are aghast with large and congested hospital buildings dominating skyline.

Additionally, the total negligence in ensuing construction of hospital building as per sanctioned plan, has emerged as a major lapse and NMC officials will have to do lot of explaining before the High Court which is monitoring the progress of its order.

It may be recalled that two years ago then Mayor had directed Municipal Commissioner not to grant any new permission to hospital building in Dhantoli
and Ramdaspeth, it was followed only in breach. Town Planning Department quietly processed all hospital plans and granted permission.

Dhantoli Nagarik Mandal which filed a PIL before the High Court strongly opposing construction of any new hospital, received a rude shock in the form of NMC affidavit stating there was no restriction in Development Plan and DCR to prohibit any hospital. Unless, the DCR is changed and hospitals are banned in residential localities, such a ban will be legally impermissible, the NMC has stated in its affidavit.
According to Nagarik Mandal it is not permissible for the NMC to convert the user of the residential plots into commercial one, when the draft development plan of the city earmarked locality for strictly residential purpose. The Municipal Commissioner has no authority to permit the user of the land for hospital and to sanction building plans by granting relaxation of building regulations, it claimed.

Legalities apart, hospitals and health-care establishments are blatantly violating parking and building norms. At any given point of time, entire locality is flooded with vehicles and visitors and entire open space is occupied by them since hospitals have no adequate parking space and waiting rooms.

After judicial whiplash, NMC has woken from its deep slumber and is conducting inspection of hospitals to check whether they are constructed in accordance with norms, the infamous TDR scandal involving some hospitals, one ex-corporator and one MLA in recent past has revealed extent of money which changes hand in permitting huge hospital buildings on smaller plots, exploiting all loopholes in the planning process and laxity in sanctioning process by Town Planning Department.