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DM bar on gutkha, paan in hospital

Siliguri, Feb. 21: Darjeeling district magistrate Saumitra Mohan today instructed the Siliguri district hospital authorities to bar people chewing gutkha and paan from entering the premises and slap fines on the offenders.

Mohan, the executive vice-chairman of Siliguri District Hospital’s Rogi Kalyan Samiti, passed the directive during a routine visit of the facility this morning.

“The walls are stained with gutkha and betel juice. It does not look nice. There are patients admitted here and the surroundings should be clean and hygienic for them. We have to take immediate measures to ensure that nobody chewing gutkha, paan or any other tobacco products is allowed in the hospital,” Mohan told district health department officials today.

“There is a law that treats spitting in public places as a punishable offence and fines can be slapped on people committing the act. We should start implementing the law on the hospital premises,” Mohan said.

According to the West Bengal Prevention of Spitting in Public Places Act, a fine of Rs 200 can be slapped on those who spit in public places.

“We will start informing people through the public address system that they will not be allowed to enter the hospital premises if they are chewing paan, gutkha or any other tobacco products. Security guards at the entrance shall be instructed not to allow those chewing gutkha and paan inside the hospital,” said Sanjib Majumdar, the hospital superintendent.

According to an official in the hospital, it would be difficult to impose the fines. “As the hospital has not implemented the rule yet, it will be difficult for us to impose the fine. We will start with warnings through the public address system. If that does not act as a deterrent, we will start imposing fines. This will be applicable for the employees also,” he said.

Mohan visited several wards in the hospital today and instructed the staff to speak to the patients and address their problems. “There are many who are not aware that they are entitled to free meals and medicines at the hospital. The staff should be pro-active and provide the patients with meals and medicines. They should constantly inquire about the patients and try to look into their problems,” he said.

Mohan also inspected the washrooms and the fire safety system at the hospital.

“The DM has asked us to increase the number of fire extinguishers and install an alarm system. We will send a proposal to the fire service department to assist us in installing those and train the staff to operate them,” Majumdar said.