Walker Hospital under the Indian army, Shimla - its heritage building, a victim of fire mishap.

 Walker Hospital of Shimla outlookindia.com

The landmark British-era Walker Hospital of Shimla had a humble beginning in 1902 with just 20 beds for the Europeans and  European Indigents, the latter were given free medical treatment. Over a period of time additional expansion  was made to accommodate  more than 40 patents   

In 1954 when the Western Command shifted its base to Shimla Walker Hospital was  converted into a military hospital and renamed as the Command Hospital.  In 1985 for  administrative reasons the Western Command  shifted to  Chandimandir  However, Walker Hospital (Command Hospital)  continued to remain a Military Hospital serving the troops stationed nearby.  From 1954 to 1990, Walker hospital had served as the main  facility for the army personnel and their families. it is the only hospital serving the needs of retired army personnels  from the district of Shimla, Kinnaur, Sola, Kullu, Manali and part of Sirmaur districts.

As ill luck would have it the hospital building was almost  gutted on the night of December 22, 1998 and  this big fire mishap  turned it into cinders and broken burnt- fragments barring a few parts like the interconnecting passages, porches and the conference room, family quarters, etc. They  were courageously saved by the hospital staff despite blazing fire and tongues of hot flame flashing out.  It is on the same spot where the Walker hospital stood  yet another hospital was planned in 2007  with some major restructuring work, repairs, etc. The project is yet  to be completed. Finally the army salvaged the saved parts of the building and restructured  and reconstructed it with necessary medical facilities  to continue the hospital's military tradition. But it it has remained closed.

In 2019 it  served as a COVID-care  center in Shimla and there is a plan to add 100 beds for Covid patients. In May 2021  the state government  proposed a plan to build hospital infrastructure  to treat  COVID  patients.and the army that controls the hospital agreed in principle.  In August 2021 the hospital) was de-notified and removed from the category of COVID care centre, with immediate effect.

But the Army  is not happy as the state government has a proposal to take it over and if it so, it means the government is insensitive to the sentiments of the Army. According to the Army, they want to keep the hospital and run it on its own to retain its tradition and the British legacy.