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17-hour power cut at hospital

Burdwan, June 10: A 17-hour power cut at Burdwan Medical College Hospital since 8 last night left nearly 1,500 patients sweating without fans, lights and water and led to the cancellation of several surgeries.

“The power went off at 8.04pm and was restored at 1.07pm today. We have never experienced such a long power cut,” said hospital superintendent Asit Baran Samanta.

Sources said 17 of the 25 surgeries scheduled for today had to be cancelled.

Around 300 pouches of blood stocked in the regional blood bank on the hospital premises were destroyed because the cooling system did not work for lack of power.

Although the hospital has two 62.5KV generators, only one can be operated at a time. “We could manage to keep the lights on in four wards at a time for three-hour stretches,” a source said. The hospital, which has medicine, paediatric, surgical, dental, ENT and other units, has 15 wards.

The more critical cardiac, ICU, nephrology and urology units are located in another building nearby. The power supply to that building was unaffected.

Patients, from Burdwan and its neighbouring districts and Jharkhand, spoke of their ordeal.

Charan Ruidas, 40, said: “My gall bladder operation was scheduled for today. But doctors told me around 7 this morning that the surgery could not be done because of the power cut.”

Afsar Ahmed said his nephew Mohammad Isha, 25, who was admitted this morning with a stomach infection, complained that he felt even more uneasy in the heat. “When I met him at noon, he was sweating profusely,” Ahmed said.

The maximum temperature in Burdwan has been hovering around 40 degrees Celsius for the past few days.

Rajiv Ruidas, whose one-year-old son was admitted on Thursday because of vomiting and stomach ache, said: “My wife had to spend the night outside the ward because the baby felt even more unwell inside.”

There was no water as the pump could not be operated. The patients complained they did not even get drinking water at night. This morning, the public health engineering department sent 10,000 pouches of water while the municipality organised four tankers.

The hospital authorities said they had informed the electrical wing of the public works department about the power cut last night. “The PWD staff inspected the electric line in the hospital and said the power cut was caused by a cable fault. They asked us to contact the (state-run power utility) WBSEDCL,” said Tapas Kumar Ghosh, the deputy superintendent of the hospital. The PWD maintains the power lines and transformers at the hospital.

He said a PWD assistant engineer went to the WBSEDCL office around 9 last night. “No senior official was there, so he lodged a complaint with the linesman. But a power utility team came only around 10am,” Ghosh said.

WBSEDCL officials said a transformer switch gear near the paediatric ward had tripped, causing the power failure.