CHITWAN, Aug 25: When forests were cleared in Chitwan some 64 years ago to develop human settlements, the locals had allocated more than 30 bigaha for a Bharatpur hospital. The land was subsequently registered in the hospital's name with a view to establishing the facility in the near future.
This land has now shrunk to 11 bigaha as various government entities and private organizations have taken over the rest on the strength of recommendations from higher authorities. A large portion of the land is being used by private organizations and government offices.
The hospital is now facing a problem finding space required for setting up new infrastructure and upgrade itself as a specialized hospital in accordance with a recently endorsed master plan.
Higher authorities such as the Ministry of Health, the Department of Health Services and the Hospital Development Committee recommended to the hospital to make its land available for other organizations as well. These organizations have now constructed their own buildings within the hospital promises.
As of now, six different organizations are using parcels of the hospital land. Some of them are using it free of cost and others have signed leases, said the hospital administration.
The Institute of Medicine was the first to corner hospital land. With a recommendation from the Department of Health Services, the Institute took up 6 bigah 19 kaththa in 1976 and built an ANM campus. The campus was subsequently handed over to CTEVT as per government policy, and so was the land.
In March 2017, a health secretary-level meeting decided to take back the land used by CTEVT. Citing the decision, the hospital administration wrote officially to CTEVT to begin the process of re-registering the land in the hospital's name. But there has been no progress in that direction.
In 1983, a Cabinet meeting decided to provide 3 bigaha 17 kaththa of the hospital land to Mahendra Eye Hospital. The government leased out the most land, 9 bighas, to Bharatpur Medical Sciences College for 49 years in 1997. The medical college has now rented out the same land to the International Society for Medical Education, US.
Some private organizations are also using the hospital land. Sajha Swasthya Service Sarkari Sanstha is using 1 kaththa 10 dhur for a pharmacy building. The Sanstha pays only Rs 115,000 annually to the hospital for using the land.Not satisfied with the low rent, the hospital tried to take back the land from the Sanstha but the latter went to court. Responding to a writ petition, the court ordered the hospital not to hike the rent.
Nepal Red Cross Society is also using 2 kaththa 10 dhur of hospital land.
The hospital has not been very successful in retrieving its lands.A Cabinet meeting in February decided to upgrade Bharatpur Hospital. The government has approved a master plan for investing more than Rs 6.54 billion and upgrading the hospital to a 1,000-bed facility from the existing 300 beds. As per the plan, it will become a teaching hospital for training specialist doctors.
“Unfortunately, we lack enough land to build infrastructures as proposed in the master plan,” said Bijaya Subedi, former chairman of the Hospital Development Committee.