Life in a metro – Hospital patients forced to live in AIIMS metro station
Babita Kumari, 13, hailing from Jharkhand, kills her time by playing board games with other girls of her age at the subway of the AIIMS metro station, while she waits for an ultrasound test to be conducted on her. Babita has been vomiting blood from the last few months with complaints of stomach ache at regular intervals.An estimated 100 patients, who have come for treatment at two of the city’s best government hospitals, namely Safdarjung and All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) from various parts of the country, have been staying at this subway at the AIIMS metro station, as they cannot afford expensive guest houses in the city.
The subway has now become an extension of two night shelters of the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB), with the outstation patients and their families staying there to protect themselves from cold weather conditions.According to the caretaker Rajnikanth, people (patients and their families) have started staying at the subway since November 28 last year, as the two night shelters — outside the AIIMS metro station do not have enough place to accommodate the patients. These night shelters — which house an estimated 100 patients — was built by DUSIB in November to take care of the inflow of patients.
“The patients and their families were told to stay here after an officer from DUSIB allowed them to do so,” Rajnikanth said, adding that they have been given time till March 31 after which they will be evicted.With foul smell all over, people were seen spitting, shaving, washing clothes, and even dressing their relatives after surgeries were conducted on them.
There are two mobile toilet units set up by DUSIB which are located just outside the metro station, but not many people use it. The subway now has a board of DUSIB with dos and don’ts mentioned on it. Not only this, many patients have been seen stranded outside metro stations and were sleeping on the stairs of the metro in absence of enough places in the night shelters.
“We have been staying from the last two and a half months. I have come here for my two-year old son who has been diagnosed with brain tumour. Since the hospital does not have enough beds and we cannot afford expensive guest houses, so we have been staying here. I have taken money on interest for the treatment,” said Shravan Kumar, a carpenter hailing from Bihar said.
According to SK Varshney, executive engineer, DUSIB, the people were kept here after directions were provided from the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) to accommodate them.”Since we did not have enough space to stay and we did not have any other alternative, we spoke to the Public Works Department (PWD) and after directions from the CMO, the people were allowed to stay here only during the night. There is no hindrance to commuters because of these people,” Varshney said.
“The people are allowed to stay only till March 31. Also since the occupancy of the people decreases during summer, there will not be much of a problem,” he added.Meanwhile, patients along with their families have been facing a tough time and do not know where they are going to go after March 31.
“We use the public toilets and sometimes even pay for bathing and washing the clothes. The food is provided during langars. They have told us to leave after this month. We do have not any clue as to where we will go after this,” said Heena Parveen, who hails from Jamui in Bihar who has come for her treatment.
As carried in DNA on 15.3.17