Burdwan, Dec. 11: Ashadul Sheikh, 57, who was admitted to the subdivisional hospital at Katwa earlier this week with acute diarrhoea and dehydration, was advised to sleep well. But little did his doctors know that he could not have any sleep throughout yesterday because microphones blared continuously close to his ward.
Like Ashadul, 350-odd patients of the Katwa subdivisional hospital, about 180 km from Calcutta, had a trying time since yesterday as the Group D employees’ union took over the hospital premises for its two-day conference.
The union, an affiliate of the CPM-controlled coordination committee of state government employees, has converted an out patient department (OPD) of the hospital into their “conference office”.
In January this year, the committee held a two-day district conference at the same hospital flouting norms. The health department had initiated a probe but no action was taken against anyone.
“My father could not sleep yesterday because of the continuous slogan-shouting and speeches by the coordination committee members,” said Nurul Huda. “But we are helpless. There is no one who will listen to our complaints.”
Flags, festoons and posters were all over the hospital premises. The blaring loudspeakers made a mockery of signboards declaring that the hospital is a silence zone.
Frequent announcements about parking vehicles and other arrangements for the delegates were made from the office.
One loudspeaker was set up on a tree while two others were placed on rickshaws. Ganasangeet, speeches, slogans and announcements continued throughout the day even as the main conference of 400 delegates was held today at the adjacent Rabindra Parishad Hall.
District health officials said the union did not take any permission. “Holding conferences and using loudspeakers (on the hospital premises) are illegal,” said Madhab Chattopadhyay, additional chief medical officer of health of Katwa subdivision.
“No prior permission was taken from us. But we are helpless because if we want to take any action, there might be protest from the employees of the hospital,” he added.
Katwa subdivisional officer A.J. Sengupta has ordered a probe. “A report has been sought from hospital superintendent Gautam Ghosh,” he said. Ghosh was not available for comment.
The CPM leadership said it was “unjust” to hold rallies and meetings inside the hospital. “Although the coordination committee is affiliated to our party, the meet is its internal affair and we have nothing to say about it,” said Anjan Chatterjee, the CPM’s Katwa zonal secretary.
“Though we held the inauguration ceremony inside the hospital, patients in the indoor wards were not affected,” said Pranab Aich, the district secretary of the coordination committee.