When will Kamhua Noknu PHC be made fully functional?, court asks state govt

[ Nellie N Manpoong ]

NAHARLAGUN, 19 Mar: The Itanagar bench of the Gauhati High Court here on Friday directed the health & family welfare secretary to indicate the timeframe within which the primary health centre (PHC) in Kamhua Noknu in Pongchau circle of Longding district would be made fully functional.

In its order, the court directed the secretary to “file an affidavit indicating within how much time the primary health centre at Kamhua Noknu shall be made fully functional which was stated to have been inaugurated by the chief minister of the state of Arunachal Pradesh as far back as on 4 December, 2018.”

The PHC in Kamhua Noknu grabbed attention when a case of maternal death was reported on 5 November, 2020. The villagers had claimed that the death occurred because of the poor condition of the road and the absence of doctors and nurses at the PHC there.

The woman, identified as Nonsai Pansa, had died during childbirth.

The villagers had also claimed that some other pregnant  women from the village had died previously due to the lack of medical facilities.

As per a 9 March order of the high court, the standing counsel for the state’s health department was granted time till 19 March to provide the status of the PHC in Kamhua Noknu, which is stated to be non-functional despite having been inaugurated in 2018 by Chief Minister Pema Khandu.

The state government’s standing counsel submitted that he has not received any concrete instruction in this regard. However, according to him, it has been informed to him verbally by the authorities concerned that “infrastructure of the PHC in question is not ready as yet to be able to make it functional.”

The petitioner, the All Khakam Students’ Union, informed the court that, during fact-finding, it was learned that the PHC in Kamhua Noknu was indeed completed and inaugurated on 4 December, 2018, by the chief minister through videoconference from Longding headquarters, “but sadly no services of any kind have been delivered there till date.”

The petitioner informed the court that Khakam block has five villages (including Kamhua Noknu), “with a combined population of around 7,000-8000 people, very poor road connectivity and a non-functioning PHC.”

“This very area shares international border with Myanmar, and hence it ought not to be neglected in such a manner,” the petitioner submitted.

The counsel for the petitioner, Madam Mili said, “I was very surprised to know that an incomplete infrastructure was inaugurated. The respondents have stated that it cannot be functionalized at the moment as things are not ready. However, I am very pleased with the honourable court’s direction to functionalize it by directing them to file an affidavit indicating the timeframe.”

On 9 November, this daily had spoken to the villagers, one of whom had said, “The PHC in Kamhua Noknu was established because the road communication was bad, and to provide the villagers with basic medical facilities, but doctors and nurses cannot come or do not come to the PHC because of the terrible road condition. Built at a cost of about Rs 1.5 crore, the PHC now remains occupied only by herds of cattle.”

The next hearing is scheduled two weeks from now.