MANDI BAHAUDDIN-People of Mandi Bahauddin district have bitterly criticized Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif for reducing the bed capacity of under construction new DHQ hospital from 258 to 170 beds.

Talking to The Nation, they said they do not witness fulfilment of tall claims the CM had made during a campaign for 2013 general election. They revealed that the development projects he inaugurated during his recent visit to Malakwal were sanctioned and started during the PML-Q and PPP regimes. "The new 258-bed DHQ hospital project was approved in 2004 by former president Pervaiz Musharraf during his visit to Mona Depot," they added. It was decided that its cost and expenditure would be shared by the federal and Punjab governments on equal basis.

The federal government then headed by President Asif Ali Zardari released funds of its share and project was started as per recommendations of the PPP parliamentarians of Mandi district. Since the PML-N could not win a seat from Mandi Bahauddin during 2008 elections, the Punjab chief minister from PML-N had not released funds of his government's share. Therefore, work on the project was suspended due to lack of funds.

In 2013 elections, the CM had promised to complete the DHQ hospital project and vowed to bring Mandi Bahauddin to the level of Faisalabad. People believing in his promises voted in favour of the PML-N and as a result, his party grabbed all national and provincial assembly seats in the district but the DHQ project remained incomplete. Now it is learnt that bed capacity of the hospital has been reduced and it would be a secondary health facility DHQ hospital. Recently, work on the project has been restarted and the CM has promised its completion before the next general election.

Locals are of the opinion that the CM has restarted the work on the hospital project only to woo voters.

It is to be noted that a dual highway from Gujrat to Head Faqirian was initiated with efforts of the PPP parliamentarians during the previous tenure of Shehbaz Sharif as Punjab chief minister and was completed from Gujrat to Laither village before 2013. The other road construction projects were also planned, started and completed during the tenures of the PML-Q and the PPP governments. However, Laither-Head Faqirian Dual Highway has recently been completed with the efforts made by PML-N MNA Nasir Bosal.

A road bridge on River Jhelum near Chak Nazaam was inaugurated twice by the PML-N, twice by the PPP and once by former president Musharraf in the past but no work was executed after the inauguration ceremonies.