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Hospital stalls pulled down

Malda, Dec. 2: The Malda Medical College and Hospital today used a bulldozer to demolish 50 illegal shops on its campus that hamper the movement of ambulances and are a possible source of infections.

The bulldozer brought down the temporary structures, most made of bamboo, tin and wood, after a warning by the hospital authorities last evening. The hawkers did not put up any resistance.

The eight-hour operation started around 7am in the presence of college principal Ujjwal Bhadra, vice-principal M.A. Rashid, and superintendent Himadri Anri.

The initiative was taken up after Krishnendu Chowdhury, the chairman of the district patients’ welfare committee, instructed the authorities to remove the temporary structures.

“We will not allow any illegal activity inside the medical college and hospital. Some people had set up illegal shops on the premises. There were tea stalls, shops cooking and selling food and some selling fruits. They were not only creating congestion, but were also a source of infection,” Krishnendu, who is also the state tourism minister, said today.

He added that Englishbazar municipality would consider providing the affected people with an alternative location to run their businesses.

Krishnendu said the stalls obstructed movement of vehicles, especially ambulances and cars carrying patients and doctors.

“I have asked the hospital authorities to keep a strict vigil so that these shanties do not reappear. There are many areas in the hospital where cars are parked causing congestion and I have told the authorities to get rid of them,” Krishnendu said.

Bhadra said he had written to the health department and the administration about the illegal stalls.

“I had written to my higher-ups about the shops that were illegal and used coal ovens to cook. There were even cigarette shops on the campus. The tourism minister, who is also the chairman of the patient welfare committee, gave us a go ahead for the removal of the encroachment.”

Today, Krishnendu, who switched over to Trinamul from the Congress recently, inspected the hospital kitchen and washrooms. “I have warned the kitchen staff about the quality of food that needs to be improved. The state government is spending lakhs to keep the facilities clean and even hiring private companies to keep the premises clean. I want that they are used to the full and the hospital is kept neat and clean,” the minister said.

He said more time was needed to improve the hospital’s condition. “The hospital has been upgraded to a medical college only two years ago and more time is required to improve the infrastructure.”

Those who lost their shops today said they were waiting to get alternative space.

“We have no organisation, association or political affiliation to depend on. We have been assured by Krishnendu Chowdhury that we will be relocated,” said Debu Das, a tea stall owner.

Poppy Das, who had a tea and snacks stall said she would wait for an alternative place.

“But till then, I and my family will have to look for a source of livelihood.”