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Crackers & mikes in hospital complex
Patients spend sleepless night

Kali idols at a puja in East Midnapore’s Mecheda. Picture by Jahangir Badsa

Tamluk, Nov. 14: Songs blared and crackers were burst at a Kali puja organised inside the Tamluk district hospital compound, forcing many patients to spend a sleepless night.

The president of Youth Star Club, which organised the puja, said he had obtained “verbal permission” of the hospital superintendent. The superintendent denied the claim.

The members of the club are mostly contractual workers of the hospital, ambulance drivers and their families.

Police said no action could be taken as the hospital authorities did not lodge a complaint. “Blaring microphones inside a hospital compound is illegal. Bursting of crackers is banned. We did not give permission to any club to organise Kali puja inside the hospital. The hospital authorities, however, is yet to lodge any complaint against any club,” said Arun Khan, the officer in charge of Tamluk police station.

The pandal was set up in front of the hospital building that houses the isolation and paediatric wards.

Patients admitted to these wards said they could not sleep last night because of the noise. Children in the paediatric ward felt scared because of the noise of the crackers, their parents complained.

Kavita Manna, whose six-year-old daughter Payel is admitted with stomach problems and vomiting, said: “She trembled throughout the night. The sound of crackers scared her. On top of that, songs were blared on mikes through the night.”

Asrin Bibi, whose one-year-old son is admitted to the same ward, echoed Kavita.

Nandita Shasmal, whose one-year-old son was admitted today, said: “The authorities could not provide us a bed. We were asked to lie on the floor. The unbearable noise is making things worse for my baby.”

The mikes continued blaring throughout today and there is little hope of respite as the festivities will continue till tomorrow night.

Club president Deepak Bhowmik claimed he had obtained the verbal permission of hospital superintendent Prakash Barui. “He agreed to the puja on the compound. Many hospital employees and their families are involved in the puja,” Bhowmik said.

Asked about the mikes, he gave an explanation that defies science. “The mikes have been placed facing the boundary wall of the hospital so that the sound does not reach the hospital. We are playing songs at a low volume. The noise the patients are complaining about are coming from mikes set up by the four-five pujas being organised outside the hospital compound,” Bhowmik said.

He said the club used to organise the puja on a field outside the hospital complex. “But over the years, several houses have come up on the field and the space is inadequate to organise a puja. So we shifted the puja to the hospital compound this year.”

Superintendent Barui denied giving permission for the puja. “I am on leave since November 11. I am not aware of any puja being organised inside the hospital compound. There is no question of giving permission for any illegal act,” he said.

The acting superintendent, refused comment, saying he was “busy with administrative work”.

Junior health minister Chandrima Bhattacharya took strong exception to bursting of crackers inside the hospital compound.

“The government has taken a serious view of the incident. Patients were inconvenienced. I have asked the hospital superintendent to inform the police,” she said.