New military hospitals approved near India-China border

New Delhi, DHNS: The government has approved building three new military hospitals close to the India-China border and decided to upgrade two existing ones, as conflicts along India's disputed border with China are on the rise.

Three new military hospitals will be set up at Rangapahar (Nagaland), Panagarh (West Bengal) and Likabali (Arunachal Pradesh).

Taken together, the trio will add 475 new beds in the existing network of army hospitals.

Incidentally, Panagarh will also be the headquarters of India's new mountain strike corps.

In addition, a 200-bed general hospital in Leh will be upgraded to a 300-bed unit whereas a 148-bed military hospital at Misamari will be upgraded to a 250 bed centre, the Ministry of Defence informed a panel of Parliamentarians, who queried the government on the steps being taken to take care of soldier's health.

The decision to create new medical facilities close to the northern and eastern borders comes at a time when confrontations between troops guarding the mountainous 3,488 km Line of Actual Control between the two countries, are on the rise.

More than 400 transgressions from the Chinese side were reported in 2017- a sharp rise from 273 such incidents reported in 2016.

The two sides also witnessed a 72-day long face-off at Doklam, near the India-China-Bhutan trijunction, last year.

The Director General of Armed Forces Medical Service (DGAFMS) informed the lawmakers about the Army's long term plan of creating four more military hospitals and upgrade two more.

Among the proposed new hospitals, the biggest one (200 bed) will come up in Eastern Ladakh while three smaller ones would be at Sitapur (Uttar Pradesh), Chungthang (Sikkim) and Borarupak (Arunachal Pradesh).

The upgrade proposals are for the 166-bed hospital at Jaipur, which is planned to be converted into a 600-bed command hospital, and the military hospital at Kargil, which would be expanded to have 149 beds.

The army is not the only one expanding its healthcare infrastructure. Navy too plans expansion of seven of its hospitals with increased number of beds.

The Cabinet Committee on Security so far has only approved upgrading INHS Patanjali at Karwar from a 141-bed unit to a 400-bed unit.

Notwithstanding the expansion, the armed forces medical service suffer from manpower crunch, from super-specialty doctors to nursing staff, DGAFMS officials informed the panel.

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