A Marathi newspaper builds a hospital at Siachen

BY Prabhakar Kulkarni| IN Media Practice | 18/11/2002
Various individuals and institutions, from grampanchyats to industries, banks, and educational institutions came forward to donate for the fund.

Prabhakar Kulkarni

In times of calamity, relief funds are floated by newspapers, so as to provide facilities and relieve the needy  sufferers. But to utilize the relief fund for a specific cause and to achieve the target is something special in relief operations. Pudhari, a highly circulated Marathi daily in Western Maharashtra has succeeded in building a full-fledged hospital in the hitherto medically neglected Siachen area and has created an example to emulate for relief operation schemes carried out in the national interest.

Soldiers and civilians in the Siachen region which is constantly surrounded by hard ice walls , snow glaciers and  shelling by enemy forces, were  so far dependent on medical facilities at distant places for which the transportation cost was very high and beyond capacity of common people.  Soldiers in particular had to pull on without timely and appropriate medical facilities, despite their struggle and sacrifice for the nation. As adequate medical facilities were not available at Siachen, serious soldiers as also civilians were so far taken to Leh and Chandigad for proper medical treatment.

In response to the nation`s call for raising funds at the time of  Kargil war,  Pudhari responded and collected the fund. In view of the need for a hospital in the area, the newspaper decided to utilize the Kargil fund for building a hospital, and in a  discussion between Pudhari¿s editor Mr. Pratapsinh Jadhav and Union defence minister Mr.George Fernandes, the scheme to build hospital was finalized. The cost of the hospital, being Rs. 2.35 crores, it  appealed to the mass of its readers to donate for the noble cause.  As  Pudhari  is well circulated in both rural and urban areas in the region of the western Maharashtra, various individuals and institutions, from gram panchyats in villages to industries, banks,  schools and colleges in urban areas came forward to donate for the fund, which ultimately reached the target of Rs. 2.35 crores.

The warmth and ray of hope blooming in the ice-cold environment in the region has become an eternal monument to a daily newspaper¿s dedicated efforts, as also the generosity of  the mass of its readers, who ultimately brought a dream into reality.  What was noteworthy about  this relief work is that the funds were collected with a specific target and once it was achieved, the relief account was closed.  Pudhari has thus created another ideal in regard to operation of relief  funds, particularly floated by newspapers. 

The editor Mr. Jadhav then persistently contacted the concerned Army officials, building technicians and other  relevant constituents, with the result that the hospital building was completed and duly inaugurated on at the hands of the defence minister Mr. Fernandes on 18th November 2001. The 75- bed hospital has modern facilities, like a state of the art decompression chamber, central heating system, well equipped operation theatre and advanced medical equipment as also medical experts ready to provide services to both the soldiers and civilians in the  hitherto medically neglected Siachen region.

After the inauguration on the last 18th November , most of the Jawans and  civilians are receiving proper and timely medical treatment during last one year . The first anniversary of the hospital on 18th of this month, is  a reminder of an unique milestone in the history of Indian Journalism ,  particularly because it has direct relevance to nationalism.

Contact: prabhakarkulkarni@indiatimes.com

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