MLA, PDCC spar over shifting of district hospital

STAFF REPORTER IMPHAL, 9th Apr: Raising strong objection to relocation of Imphal East district hospital and subsequent allegation of not appending in the memorandum of agreement as made by health minister L Jayantakumar, Khundrakpam MLA and former Speaker of state assembly Th Lokeshwar demanded the health minister to proof authenticity of the documents he produced during a press conference held on Sunday.
Addressing media persons at his Keishampat residence here, MLA Lokeshwar said that the reason for relocating the district hospital given by the health minister is baseless and unacceptable. Generally memorandum of agreement should have signatures of both parties involved but the agreement dated September 1, 2017 as produced by the minister does not have signature of any authority of the state government.
His family and his wife’s maternal family did not receive any correspondence or information for signing the agreement, he said and added that the agreement was used to mislead the minister and relocate the hospital. Besides, the minister can always ask him to clear any misunderstanding about the agreement if the government’s decision was in good intention.
Showing sales deeds for direct purchase made between his wife Th Nivedita and the state health director in November 2013, Lokeshwar said that there is no reason for Nivedita to sign the agreement made on September 1, 2017 since she had already handed over the plot to the state health director.
The health minister can easily find the owner of the plot in the settlement record, he informed.
On the other hand, his wife’s mother RK Lakshmisana had already agreed and announced to donate her plot in the name of ex-MLA late Th Nabakumar if the district hospital is constructed at Sagolmang. As such, there is no question of paying or receiving compensation for the plot and she is always ready to donate the plot once the construction starts, the MLA continued.
W Devan, one of the witnesses who signed on the agreement, told media persons that a woman from his locality called Moirangthem Nachom brought the agreement to him and asked for collecting signatures of the land owners. Though he could not much understand the meaning of the documents written in English, he thought that it must be some missed out documents and collected signatures of four land owners thinking that construction will begin soon. Then he handed the document to Nachom.
MLA Lokeshwar further said that the state cabinet on October 4, 2017 reaffirmed the previous government’s decision to construct the hospital at Sagolmang and resolved to relocate the CHC at Sagolmang to Bashikhong. Subsequently, an official order was issued in this regard on November 23, 2017. Unfortunately, the CHC has been relocated to Bashikhong as per government order and now the district hospital has also been shifted to Kyamgei leaving the people of Khundrakpam constituency without any healthcare facility, which they earlier enjoyed, he said. Regarding the complaint of the health minister over the nature of inclusion of his name in the plaque of the foundation stone laid in 2011, Lokeshwar said that the plaque was prepared by the then health director and this should not be a reason for relocating the hospital.
Since most of the leaders in the present government know him personally, they must have fair knowledge of his contribution of land and other resources for developmental projects in Khundrakpam constituency and how he donated his land for Sagolmang police station. Considering these facts, the government could have at least contacted him to clear the misunderstanding before taking such major decision, he asserted.
Expressing concern over the nature of the matter, the MLA said that the hospital location has been shifted through political influence and deceitful means used to mislead the people. Since the issue has become a matter of personal concern as his family is made the reason for shifting the hospital, he will take legal help to counter the government decision, Lokeshwar added.
Meanwhile, Peace and Development Coordinating Committee (PDCC) secretary Thoudam Hemjit has categorically stated that MLA Thokchom Lokeshwar should be held solely responsible for shifting of the district hospital away from Sagolmang and also for any unwanted incidents against the members of PDCC.
Speaking to media persons at the office of PDCC, Yumnam Khunou, Imphal East on Monday, Hemjit recalled that on December 16, 2011, former Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh along with the local MLA laid the foundation stone for construction of the district hospital at the campus of Sagolmang CHC.
However, during the five-year period when MLA Lokeshwar was the Speaker of Manipur Legislative Assembly, no official orders were passed in this regard by the government. If any such orders exist, it must be brought out into the open, Hemjit stated.
The secretary observed that in the last 5 years, only the fences of the hospital were constructed. However, it is questionable why the ownership of 3.24 acres of land belonging to the MLA's family is still not being transferred to the Medical Directorate, he added.
He questioned if it was okay for the family to only dabble in lip service and refuses to transfer the said land to the Directorate, like other landowners have done. Putting up of fences even before resolving the land demarcation issues is a sign of contract-crazy people, the secretary maintained.
Hemjit then asked why no defamation or forgery case were registered against PDCC if the documents that PDCC had produced for the sake of saving the hospital, as alleged by the MLA, were indeed false. He further questioned the reason behind the sudden emergence of "official" documents for the construction of the hospital, after remaining dormant for so many years. He said that when the PDCC observed no signs of construction of the hospital, they went to the Medical Directorate and investigated, wherein they found out that no orders for construction of the district hospital ever existed. Following this, PDCC requested the present Chief Minister and the health minister to look into the issue after which the health minister himself came in July 2017 to inspect the site and assured of initiating the construction works, Hemjit conveyed.
Although an order was issued on November 23, 2017 by the cabinet for constructing the hospital, construction could not begin due to land issue that was owned by two relatives of the Kundrakpam MLA. To resolve this impasse, the MLA was repeatedly requested to help resolve the issue, apart from staging a sit-in-protest on March 21, 2018 at the site of the hospital. However, the MLA continued to remained silent on the issue, he added. Stating that it is childish on the part of the MLA to blame PDCC, the secretary said that documents presented by the MLA include the land procured during the first phase, while the PDCC is only talking about the land procured from 6 landowners for the district hospital during the second phase. Hemjit further contended that if any unwanted incidents occur to any members of PDCC then the MLA would be held solely responsible. If the hospital is shifted to another location, the MLA must also assume the responsibility in this regard. He then urged the new government not to shift the district hospital from Sagolmang for the sake of the people.

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