The remains of the shanties which were burnt in the fire on the premises of the Islampur subdivisional hospital. Picture by Mehedi Hedaytullah
Islampur, Feb. 22: Thirty-one patients, mostly pregnant women and those with newborns, haven’t returned to the subdivisional hospital more than 24 hours after they fled during a fire.
The administration has decided to rehabilitate 25 families whose dwellings were razed to the ground in the fire on the hospital premises here yesterday evening. Forty shanties, which had been built illegally on the hospital compound, were destroyed in the blaze triggered by an LPG cylinder blast.
The hospital had 182 patients when the fire raged through the shanties and all of them were taken away to the safety of nearby clubs and bus terminus by the staff and local people. They started returning to the wards around 9pm when the fire was put out and the hospital was declared safe.
Hospital superintendent Jyoti Biswas said this afternoon that of the 182 patients, 55 had not come back last night.
“However, some of them returned this morning and as of now 31 patients are unaccounted for. Nine of them are males and the others are mainly women and their children. Three of the women had a Caesarian,” he said.
Biswas said the names and addresses of the 31 patients had been handed over to the subdivisional police officer. “He will send the list to the respective police stations of the patients. They are from Islampur, Chopra, Goalpokhar and even Kishenganj in Bihar. The respective block medical officers of health were also given the list to find out whether the patients are alright,” said Biswas.
All the 10 babies who had been carried away from the Sick Newborn Care Unit of the 136-bed hospital by the mothers were brought back.
A meeting convened by minister Chowdhury Abdul Karim decided to rehabilitate the shanty-dwellers on a vacant plot belonging to the health department at Netajipara, about 1.5km from the hospital.
The structures made of tin and bamboo were occupied by Group D employees of the hospital and Islampur municipality. Nine of them were permanent workers, while others were casual workers.
“The administration will provide temporary shelters to the 25 families for the time being. Three Madhyamik candidates have lost their admit cards in the fire and I have instructed the (Islampur) subdivisional officer to see that they can sit for the exams that begin on February 24,” Karim said after the meeting.
The health department has quarters for Group D staff at Netajipara, but they are in a state of disrepair and are deserted.
The meeting was held in the hospital superintendent’s chamber from 1pm to 3pm. It was preceded by a two-hour blockade on NH31 by the shanty-dwellers. They disrupted traffic from 10am to demand relief and rehabilitation.
“We have been living in those houses for the past 15 years and we demand that the administration provide us with relief and accommodation. No one bothered to find out how we spent last night and send any relief,” said Nagen Harijan, a Group D worker.
The families had spent last night in open on the hospital premises. They were offered accommodation in a municipal dormitory around 6.30 this evening.