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KMC removes unauthorised pharmacies at Bir Hospital

The action inconveniences patients and the city should have waited until the dengue crisis is over, hospital chief says.

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KATHMANDU: A month since the Kathmandu Metropolitan City kicked off its drive to demolish illegal structures in the city, it has been relentless in its pursuit. On Thursday, which marked the drive’s 30th day, the city’s excavator reached Bir Hospital, at Kantipath, and vacated half-a-dozen pharmacies on the northern side of the hospital.

“Initially Bir Hospital had announced plans to build a park, but it later leased the space to run a pharmacy,” said Rabin Man Manandhar, spokesperson for the city office.

Manandhar added that this was not the first time the city ordered the hospital and pharmacy owners to clear the unauthorized structures. A warning in 2019, during the tenure of former mayor Bidya Sundar Shakya, had gone unheeded, he said.

“The hospital is supposed to construct a park in the area,” Manandhar said.

City officials said that of late, they had repeatedly used loudspeakers to order the owners to vacate the unauthorized structures from the area. On Wednesday, they had given them a 24-hour ultimatum to do so.

Bhupendra Kumar Basnet, director general at the hospital, however, said the city removed those pharmacies in haste without considering the fact that dengue is gripping Kathmandu at the moment.

“The number of dengue patients at the hospital has seen a rapid rise, and they need to buy medicines,” Basnet said. “Demolishing those structures will surely inconvenience them.”

Basnet added that the hospital was in the process to remove those pharmacists. “The hospital had asked them to remove their shops two months ago and they were saying they would do that soon,” he said. “The city should have waited until the dengue epidemic is over.”

The city started its drive on August 24, clearing illegal structures in some of the major business hubs—at Kathmandu Mall in Sundhara, RB Complex at Khichapokhari, and the London Pub at Durbar Marg.

On the second day of the drive, the city demolished the illegal structure at the Alfa Beta Institute, which saw a verbal altercation between Mayor Balendra Shah and the managing director of the institute, Dwiraj Sharma. Since then, the municipal excavator has reached some of the major thoroughfares in the city—Koteshwar, New Baneshwar, Thapagaun, New Road, Sohrakhutte, New Bus Park, Ratnapark, and Banasthali, among others.

Shah’s actions have drawn cheers from many but also concerns. Those who have been running their businesses out of the city’s footpaths for decades have staged demonstrations against the city’s “inhuman” drive, arguing that they have been robbed of their income source ahead of Dashain.

-Kathmandu Post