Tapan Mukherjee lies in pain on a Haltu footpath. Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya
An elderly man with a rotting wound in his left leg has been lying on the road in Kasba’s Haltu for the past few days.
A resident called up a charitable organisation and the civic body’s ambulance service to take him away but they declined.
The homeless bachelor, with “no one in the world”, is surviving on food given by the residents of the area. The wound below his left knee, which emits a foul smell, had started as “a blister”.
“It slowly started decomposing. Now there are maggots crawling. I am in severe pain and know that I am going to die soon,” said the man, who identified himself as Tapan Mukherjee.
He used to be a mason but could not find employment in the past couple of years after “becoming infirm”. “I had been living on the footpath near Kasba Post Office. I did odd jobs once in a while,” said Mukherjee. Unable to walk now, he drags himself along the ground from lane to lane.
Sonali Bakshi saw him on Monday morning on her way to office. “He was trying to pick up a bottle of water that had fallen into a roadside drain. Rotting flesh was falling off his wound as he moved.” When he was still there the next day, she called up the Missionaries of Charity and was given the number of Nirmal Hriday, the charitable organisation’s home for the dying destitute.
“The Nirmal Hriday authorities told me that they would not be able to provide the type of medical attention this person needed,” said Sonali, who then called up the Calcutta Municipal Corporation’s ambulance service.
The civic employees were reluctant to pick up Mukherjee as “no hospital wants to admit patients with suspected gangrene and they often have to betaken back to where they were picked up from”. Sonali telephoned Nirmal Hriday again, but to no avail.
When Metro called up the home and the civic ambulance service, the response was the same.
Government hospitals denied that patients with gangrene were not taken in. “No such instruction has been issued to us,” said Arup Roy, the medical superintendent and vice-principal of Medical College and Hospital.
In the absence of separate wards for such patients, “others complain of the stench”, Roy added.