Multan - At a time when the Punjab government sets the record of accomplishing mega projects in Lahore like Kalma Chowk flyover in just 135 days, there is an unfortunate health project in Multan that may take at least eight more years to complete, although the project has consumed four years so far, The Nation has learnt.

The two-year Children Complex Hospital extension project was launched in 2008 at an estimated cost of Rs1.3 billion and it was scheduled to be completed in 2010 but the way the provincial government released funds indicates that the project is likely to get accomplished by 2020, concludes an analysis.

The project includes provision of sub-speciality services like renal and bone marrow transplant, cardiac surgery, neuro surgery, MRI services, incinerator, rehabilitation centre and laundry at the hospital.

Being the only kids' hospital in the entire South Punjab region, a large number of children from Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh also come to Children Complex Multan for treatment.

However, the kids who need to undergo bone marrow and kidney transplant or cardiac surgery are directed to Lahore and Karachi due to the absence of these facilities at the hospital.

Giving details, the sources disclosed that out of total Rs1.3 billion, just Rs450 million could be released so far as a result of which the project moves at a snail's pace.

"The work on the project continues, though in a different manner. It resumes when the funds are received. It shuts when the funds are over," sources told this scribe.

The details show that just Rs20 million was released in financial year 2008-2009, Rs181.198 million 2009-2010, Rs114.830 million 2010-2011 and Rs134 million 2011-2012.

The Child Rights Committee (CRC), a non-profit body working for kids, expressed serious concerns on the situation, saying the kids of the entire South Punjab region were dying just because of apathy of the Punjab government.

"At least 50 kids, who were admitted to the hospital because of renal failure between 2005 and 2009, have died because of non-availability of kidney transplant facility. Now another 25 are under threat due to delay in project completion," lamented Mian Naeem Arshad, provincial coordinator of CRC, while citing examples.

Giving analysis of the aggregate of funds released so far, he revealed that the provincial government had released funds at an average of about Rs113 million a year which was condemnable.

"If the government can release Rs20,000 million in just 135 days for a flyover to merely facilitate commuters in Lahore, why does it fail to release only Rs1,367 million in a long period of four years to save precious lives of kids from the South Punjab?" he posed a question.

"The Chief Minister is making mockery of his own statements. While inaugurating Kalma Chowk flyover, he announced to replicate the same model in entire province but we see an altogether opposite treatment here," he regretted.

When contacted, the former project director and current head of institution of Children Complex Dr Mukhtar Hussain, however, declared it a routine matter.

"Well, it's the issue of allocation. Whatever government releases, we utilize it accordingly. It's not our fault," he added. He was of the opinion that although the government launched a number of projects altogether, its resources did not increase proportionally.

He claimed that the hospital administration had invited local MPAs and briefed them on their needs. "Let's see what we get in the year ahead."