LAHORE - A public hospital, constructed with the cost of Rs40 million about a year ago in Samanabad area, has not started functioning because of different reasons, like red-tape, political rivalry and scarcity of funds.

Some people of the area say that one major reason of this delay is that the hospital had been named after late Rana Abdul Raheem Khan, father of former deputy speaker and incumbent Education Minister Rana Mashood Ahmad Khan.

Official sources in the city district government told that some people of the constituency had approached the administration to change the name of the hospital as they thought that the building constructed with the public money cannot be named after any political figure. They said that earlier the same place had been used for running election campaign.

“The official name should remain Sodiwal Hosptial” the people want, said the CDGL officials. Rana Mashood had submitted that Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had changed the name of the hospital to Government Rana Abdul Rahim Memorial Hospital for his meritorious services, they said. The chief minister approved the project on the efforts of then Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Rana Mashood, the CDGL officials confirmed.

Neither Mashood nor his secretary was available for comments despite telephone calls and SMS on their cell numbers. Lahore health EDO Dr Zulfiqar Ali too could not be reached for his version on the issue. However, PRO Health department Akhlaq Ahmas said that he was not aware of the current status of the hospital.

An officer of the Samanabad Town conditioning anonymity said that the hospital had been constructed but money to purchase medical instruments or appointment of medical or paramedical staff could not be made. He said the town administration shifted the public sector dispensary, which earlier was working at a rented room, to the newly constructed hospital but it was waiting for the formal handover of the hospital to the town.

He said that another over 500 million rupees were required to run the hospital affairs and purchase machinery but the red-tape and systemic hitches were hindering the process. When asked how official tactics of delay could hinder approval of required funds for the functioning of a hospital in constituency of a powerful minister, he said that despite many announcements by Mashhood, the dream of the people for treatment at their doorsteps has not materialised.

People hailing from other political backgrounds don’t like the name the education minister had got approved from the chief minster, he confirmed. He said that the hospital must be functional and start treatment of the poor who had to travel miles to get their patient checked from Jinnah Hospital, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital or Mayo Hospital.

Muhammad Kamran, a citizen of the area said Mashhood had assured the people that state of the art medical equipment would be provided to the hospital in Sodiwal as soon as the SNE was released. He said that the people wanted to see the hospital functional as soon as possible. He said that government should appoint doctors, nurses and other paramedical staff and release funds for purchase of machinery; otherwise this building would go wasted.