The latest legal wrangle over the new secretariat complex has led to its most-recent occupants vacating the premises.

On Wednesday around 4.30 p.m., the National Green Tribunal directed the State government to halt all activity inside the Omandurar Government Estate, as there were questions about the validity of the environmental clearance granted to convert the building into a multi-superspecialty hospital.

On Thursday, the building, which had already begun seeing patients last week, was silent. The entrance from Anna Salai was locked, but the banners announcing the presence of a hospital had not been removed. Inside the premises, no vehicles could be seen. The glass doors leading into the building were shut and two men from the Public Works Department guarded it. Six days after the Madras High Court paved the way for the conversion of the building into a hospital, work had commenced. Outpatient clinics for specialities such as cardiology and neurology had begun functioning from a few rooms in the building, on January 31. Staff from the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital (GH), deputed to work here, were pleased with the new premises, despite several limitations. Doctors and nurses attended to patients who came from nearby areas, and those requiring further treatment were transported by ambulance to the GH.

In fact, on Thursday, one patient had been moved to the GH for further treatment, said a paramedic in the EMRI 108 ambulance stationed there.

The ambulance, earlier stationed near the Anna Salai entrance, had moved to the entrance on Swami Sivananda Salai. According to a paramedic, the ambulance staff has been told that the hospital had declared leave for its staff.

Senior health department officials, under whose supervision the outpatient services were launched, however, were not aware of the tribunal’s decision. On Thursday, PWD officials invested with the job of converting the premises refused to comment saying the matter was in court.

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