KOLKATA, 19 DEC: While the state housing minister, Mr Gautam Deb, claims to be turning Rajarhat into a model township, locals continue to face lack of healthcare services at primary health centres (PHC) in the area.
Beds in the units have disappeared over the years. The same is the case with doctors. There are occasions when the sweeper at the Patharghata primary healthcare centre vaccinates children and women.
Mr Yakub Ali Mollah, a resident of Patharghata mouza, said the unit had initially started with eight beds but now there are none. The condition of the residential quarters for the doctors is in such a plight that medics refuse to stay there. Similar is the condition of the PHC in Shekharpur, which started with 16 beds, and the centre in Rekjuani with 15 beds.
Villagers visit these centres with fever or dysentery while in serious cases they have to be moved to RG Kar Medical College, which is about 25 km from Patharghata or to a private nursing home in Baguiati, which they can seldom afford. The pradhan of the Patharghata panchayat, Mr Ashok Naskar, said that in the past 34 years nothing has been done to improve the healthcare facilities in the area.
According to Mr Nilotpal Dutta, secretary of Rajarhat Jami Bacchao Committee, a resident of Jangra mouza, Mr Sukumar Roy, had donated land to the state government to set up a hospital in 1998.
He had given 22 bighas of land and 35 three-storey houses where Mr Roy used to run a pharmaceutical company to the government on the condition that if a hospital doesn’t come up, the land would have to be returned to him.
Soon after Mr Prasanta Sur, the erstwhile health minister, inaugurated the building. The hospital operated for two months with only an outdoor unit and was soon converted to Rajarhat-Gopalpur Municipality godown and later to party office of the CPI-M, alleged Mr Dutta. Mr Roy filed a case in Calcutta High Court in 2000 and the court directed the state to return Mr Roy’s land and the buildings with renovation. He later donated it for a school to be built.
Since then, many pregnant women and other patients have died on way to city hospitals. Several women have even given birth in vehicles on their way to hospitals, said Mr Swapan Mondal, a resident of Jatragachi mouza.
Mr Sukanta Sheel, North 24-Parganas chief medical officer, said the several primary healthcare centres were converted from bedded to non-bedded in the district by the state government five to six years ago. Recently, Rs 70 lakh was sanctioned under the National Rural Health Care Mission for the renovation of the Patharghata primary healthcare centre and several centres are being converted to bedded ones considering their distance from other centres.