Read how RSS volunteers turned a defunct, British-era hospital, lying unused for over 2 decades, into a 200-bed COVID-19 facility

BGML Hospital(Source: India Today)

The RSS has also always extended its helping hand whenever the country has faced a national crisis. It has often leveraged its organisational machinery to help the country tide through various adversities. This time around, they have stepped forward to help revive a massive British era hospital in Karnataka as the state faces the scourge of a renewed bout of the coronavirus outbreak, a report published in India Today said.

Bharat Gold Mines Limited Hospital or BGML Hospital as it is popularly known was lying abandoned for more than two decades now. It was established in 1880 by Dr TJ O’Donnell and his brother JD O’Donnell and has the capacity of housing 800 beds. It was one of the largest hospitals in Asia in the early 20th century.

With the COVID-19 caseloads in Karnataka’s Kolar district spreading at an inexorable pace, MP S Muniswamy realised that it will take more time to set up a new hospital to administer the rising number of coronavirus cases. He instead decided to revamp and operationalise the British-era hospital that was lying defunct for over 20 years now. For this, he roped in the services of RSS and BJP volunteers to quickly overhaul the hospital and convert it into a COVID care centre.

Discussing his plan to convert the mouldering hospital into a COVID-19 centre, Muniswamy said, “After deliberating with the Sangh Parivar and other organisations, we decided to set up a 200+ bed Covid Care Centre. Some 250 volunteers from the BJP and RSS worked hard to get this ready. Now the cots and electricity work is done and the hospital should be up and running in 2-3 days’ time.”

Source: India Today/Nolan Pinto

Muniswamy had written a letter to Union Minister of Coal and Mines Pralhad Joshi seeking permission for the district administration to make use of this massive hospital as a Covid Care Centre. According to the authorities, the hospital was one of the biggest in Asia of its time and was amongst the first to get electricity and an X-ray unit when the mines were functional for over 120 years.

Volunteers of Sangh Parivar help in bringing KGF hospital back to life

As the plan to convert the hospital that untouched for almost 20 years into a COVID-19 centre firmed up, RSS and BJP volunteers took it upon themselves to clean the hospital. As per Praveen S, RSS Karyakarta in KGF, who is supervising the work, more than 400 tractor loads of garbage was removed from the hospital.

Praveen also added that the biggest challenge facing the RSS volunteers was to clean the hospital. “The hospital was in a dilapidated condition when we first came to the place on Day 1. There were bats flying around, and 2-3 inches of mounds of mud scattered around the expanse of the hospital. It was full of cobwebs. Many people were doubtful if we could complete the task at hands. However, the volunteers of RSS, BJP, VHP, Seva Bharati, Jana Jagaran Samiti were unwavering in their resolve to clean the hospital. We started this work on April 27 and by May 7, the entire cleaning of this five-acre campus was completed,” he said.

Currently, work is in progress to get the facility fully functional as a hospital, once all the required infrastructure is put in place. There will be four rooms with ICU facilities in the hospital. Electrification and plumbing work is underway in full swing. The authorities have also decided to utilise the 140-year-old iron cots.

“The cots are almost 140 years old and weighs more than 100 kg. They are sufficiently sturdy and you require at least 3-4 people to lift them up. While the forgings are all old techniques, you can nevertheless use the cots for another century or more,” Praveen told in an interview with India Today.

OpIndia Staff: Staff reporter at OpIndia