In a bid to provide round-the-clock health care at all hospitals in Kashmir, the Indian government recently began installing solar power plants in hospitals that lack an uninterrupted power supply. One such plant was installed October 18th, at the public health centre in Tulmulla, about 40km from Srinagar . Local residents say the facility reduces delays in service.
"Now we can get medical tests like ultra sonography (USG) and x-rays done at the hospital at any time," science graduate and Tulmulla native Riyaz Ahmad Mir told Khabar South Asia.
"Earlier, due to interrupted power supply and frequent power-cuts, many patients were forced to make repeated visits of hospital to get the medical tests done. The solar power has now ensured all-time health care facilities at the hospital," he added.
Solar power reduces delays and improves the quality of care
Health officials agree that they are now able to deliver more timely treatment to patients. "The solar power is proving useful especially in conducting surgeries of patients throughout the day and operating machines like USG and x-ray whenever needed," said Roshin Din Kasana, the chief medical officer of Ganderbal district, where Tulmulla is located.
Since the remote village hospital receives only eight-to-ten hours of power supply, he said, the solar energy improves doctors’ ability to cater to locals’ medical needs. "More importantly, the facility has saved ailing people from inconveniences, which they faced earlier," he added.
Ghulam Mohammad Malik, district official of Jammu and Kashmir Energy Development Agency (JKEDA), told Khabar the solar panels provide about 25 hours of backup power supply to the hospital. "Due to low temperature in winter season, the solar panels can give ten to twelve hours backup power supply," Malik said. "Dry batteries of solar power plant installed at a cost of Rs 4,300,000 ($70,045) need to be replaced after every five to six years," he added.
More solar plants to be installed
With funding from the central government, Health Services Kashmir plans to install more such plants, especially in remote hospitals without reliable energy supplies, Salim-u-Rehman, the director of the agency, told Khabar. "A few hospitals in border towns of Gurez, Machil and Tanghdar in north Kashmir will also be provided with the facility," Rehman said. "Power supply in such far-flung areas remains erratic most of the times, and solar power will prove useful in providing better medical facilities there."
Residents of the frontier district of Kupwara, about 110km from Srinagar, are also beneficiaries of the hospital solar power programme. "Significantly, operation theatre remains operational all the times and surgeries of critical patients are performed right away, which was not the case earlier," said Nisar Ahmad Shah, a shopkeeper and a local resident.
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