by Minhaj Masoodi

SRINAGAR: A bone chilling disclosure has revealed that the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) Hospital put off its central heating system during the peak intense cold period between 12 in the night up to 6 am. The revelation has come in response to an RTI application.

A socio legal non-profit organization, Young Lawyers Forum was told by the SMHS management that its central heating system remains shut for 12 out in a 24 hour cycle. Importantly, the heating system is shut down at 12 PM midnight and is only restored at 6 o’clock in the morning.

As per the response furnished by the office of the Medical Superintendent, SMHS Hospital, a copy of which lies with the Kashmir Life has revealed that the heating system is operational from 6 AM to 12 PM and 6 Pm to 12 AM.

The response read: “As per the standing norms, Central Heating System becomes operational from 15th November each year. It would not be out of place to mention here that Central Heating System is already installed in this Hospital and is run by Mechanical Engineering Department-MED (Hospital Wing) and funds to procure High Speed Diesel (HSD) as per the requisition made by the said department, i.e; MED are released by Accounts Officer, SHMS Hospital (DDO) as per budgetary grants allocated under relevant component. However, in case severe cold starts early in the valley, the Government takes a call and issue necessary instruction to start Central Heating System earlier than that of scheduled date i.e; 15th of November, 2021.”

“Over and above, Split Air Conditioners are installed in some areas of Hospital, where heating is utmost and cannot be done away with i.e.: Theatres, Laboratories, ICUs etc., in order to avoid any inconvenience to the patients/attendants who visit the Hospital 24 x 7,” the response further read.

“However, in the meanwhile woollen curtains have been fixed on entry of Wards to get rid of the cold intensity. Besides, broken window panes have been replaced with the new ones, in order to prevent exhaust of Heat from the Hospital.

In respect of point No 04 of the aforesaid application, a copy of an order issued by this office, as regards, operation of Central Heating System in this Hospital for 2020-21 is appended in photostat.”

The order dated 09-11-20 reads, “The central heating system of this hospital shall run as per the following Schedule with effect from 15.11.2020:

  1. Morning: 6am to 12 noon =06 hours
  2.  Evening: 6pm to 12 pm= 06 hours.”

Dr Kanwaljeet Singh, Medical Superintendent, SMHS Hospital, said that there is no shutdown at night. “We run it for two to three hours at night. Rest, you can talk to the MED department, I am in a meeting,” he said and hung up.

Manzoor Khan, AEE, GMC Srinagar and Associated hospitals, Mechanical Engineering Department MED said that the concerned MS is the one who provides us the schedule for the central heating. “The central heating works till 12 at night. After that hot water circulates and the heat remains in circulation for 2-3 hours. That mitigates the cold to some extent.”

However, the people who have managed the intense cold nights in the hospital said the life literally goes numb once the heating system are put to rest. One of the residents who was attending a patient in the casualty ward said that the window panes are broken. The wind blows through these windows at night and the heating system is shut.

“It becomes freezing cold at night in wards when the heating system is turned off, especially during the night time. It becomes difficult for the attendants to survive the night, not to talk of the patients who are already in a physically deteriorated and weak condition. Administrative officials have air condition systems installed in their offices and are least bothered about the sufferings of the patients and attendants.”

Ubaid Mir, who is the general secretary of the organization, said that they had filed RTI applications to GMC Srinagar and associated hospitals seeking information regarding the availability of heating arrangements in the hospitals and the operational timings thereof. “We received responses from almost all the associated hospitals of GMC Srinagar but the response received from SMHS, which is one of the main hospitals in Kashmir is shocking.”

“As per current scientific research, lack of proper heating facilities not only causes inconvenience to the patients but also hampers their recovery. This is the reason we decided to file RTI applications in the matter, starting from GMC Srinagar and associated hospitals,” he said.

He said that as per RTI responses received from Bone and Joint Hospital, Kashmir Nursing home, GB Pant Hospital and Government Psychiatric Hospital Srinagar, the heating systems are operated as per need and weather conditions. “Further, the heating system at Sub district Hospital Hazratbal remains functional 24 x 7. SMHS hospital remains an exception to the general practice of running the heating system in 6 hour shifts.”

He demanded immediate cognizance and action of the government in the matter. “We are ready to take up the issue at the highest available forums,” he said.


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