Even as the 31 March deadline approaches, the Delhi health department got busy in filing replies to the queries on its flagship project of setting up of 1,000 Mohalla clinics, presently stalled due to objections from various offices.
The Mohalla clinics project that was declared in the year 2015 by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal hit a road block after the Municipal Corporation of Delhi objected to the opening up of Mohalla clinics on roads and footpaths, leading to a standstill in the project implementation. Later, the then L-G Najeeb Jung’s office also held objection in opening the primary health care clinics in 300 schools.
“Mohalla clinics even planned in the Health Minister’s constituency have not seen the light of the day given the objections,” said a source in the health department.
The source also said that 105 Mohalla clinics have been opened till now in the capital city and 895 more to be opened to meet the target of setting up of 1,000 such primary health care clinics.
The L-G's office cited legal reasons for not clearing the proposal to open up dispensaries in government school premises, saying that the Delhi School Education Act does not allow such provision.
A source in the L-G’s office told the media that if Mohalla clinics are allowed in government school premises, private schools also might follow suit. Moreover, the source also cited the reason of children’s safety for the L-G’s aversion to opening up of Mohalla Clinics.
Ashok Agarwal, an activist and a lawyer, told Firstpost that there is a clear verdict by the Delhi High Court which instructs not to open any dispensary in schools. “In 2002, the Delhi High Court had ordered to remove a dispensary from a school in Bawana. It was also observed that dispensary employees used to throw medical wastes including used syringes in the playground,” he said.
All India Parents Association also filed a petition in the chief minister’s office requesting him not to open the dispensaries in schools.
Objections came on the Mohalla clinics already built, from the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and notices were slapped on the Delhi Government for allegedly violating laws by constructing Mohalla Clinics on the pavements.
Dr Sanjeev Nayyar, Mayor North Delhi Municipal Corporation, told Firstpost, “Structures are built blocking footpaths in the name of Mohalla Clinics. What do they want to prove?”
He added that Mohalla clinics are built even where no need for such clinics exist.
“In Paschim Vihar, a Mohalla Clinic was proposed where three other dispensaries, one run by the MCD and the other two by the central government and the Delhi government respectively exist within half a kilometers distance,” he complained.
“Does the Delhi government wants to close down its own dispensary to run the Mohalla Clinic,” he asked mockingly.
Abhishek Kumar, an AAP functionary, told Firstpost that a Mohalla Clinic is set up with due consultation with the residents of the mohalla or neighbourhood.
“It is the people who directs us whether to start a Mohalla clinic or not. Do you think people would accept the idea of opening up of Mohalla clinic blocking a public road?” he asked.
He also asserted that no such clinic existed on road. Nevertheless, the Delhi government was bound to seek permission from the MCD for construction of the Mohalla clinics, which remain uncleared.
Dr Sanjeev Nayyar told Firstpost that the MCD has no objection in opening up of Mohalla Clinics unless it violates laws related to building construction.
The source in the Delhi Health department said that after the MCD, the Delhi Development Authority raised objection in construction of Mohalla Clinics in its land.
It also said that the Delhi Health department cannot move ahead with the project without permissions. “We are trying our best to reply to the objections raised,” the source said.
Ajay Dutta, an AAP MLA told Firstpost that Mohalla clinics are low cost dispensaries of the present age. So he hopes that the new L-G will understand their necessity and will soon take up initiative to clear the files seeking permission for such clinics.
In June 2015, the Delhi chief minister declared the decision to open 1,000 Mohalla clinics in various neighbourhood in Delhi, while inaugurating the first one in Punjabi Bagh Colony by December. Mohalla clinic is a revolutionary initiative by the Delhi government that aims at providing free primary healthcare to the masses in their neighbourhood.
In December 2016, the chief minister extended the deadline of setting up of 1,000 Mohalla Clinics up to 31 March 2017, given the complications in permission.
AAP intends to use free primary health care as its main election plank in the MCD election to be held in the month of May. But whether the party will be able to fulfil it’s promise still remains a question.
Updated Date: Jan 03, 2017 18:19 PM