The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mayor struts, minister walks Subrata makes hospital pay

Calcutta, Oct. 30: The mayor was as good as his word.

Garbage piled up in Bengal’s premier SSKM Hospital today as it — and its patients — paid for its surgeon-superintendent’s “misbehaviour” with Calcutta’s first citizen 24 hours ago.

The situation was salvaged by the end of the day — with chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee himself being forced to call up mayor Subrata Mukherjee — after intervention by a lesser mortal, minister of state for health Pratyush Mukherjee, failed to resolve the unseemly fracas.

Hospital surgeon-superintendent Debdwaipayan Chattopadhyay himself “paid” for Tuesday’s refusal to accommodate a patient referred by the mayor; he spent a better part of the day suffering the stench of the garbage that piled up at the dumping ground just behind his chamber.

Mukherjee had referred a patient, Dipesh Ray, to the hospital about a week ago, requesting that he be accommodated in the hospital’s neuro-medicine ward. Five days of delay later on Tuesday, Mukherjee himself rushed to the hospital after an emissary, too, was refused by Chattopadhyay.

Incensed by Chattopadhyay’s explanation — that he was following “procedural guidelines” by referring the patient to the outpatients’ department before admitting him — and the refusal to offer him a chair, Mukherjee left after threatening Chattopadhyay that he would have to pay for the “misdemeanour”.

It was not an empty threat. The Calcutta Municipal Corporation’s conservancy services missed SSKM Hospital today. Heaps of bio-medical waste accumulated in several wards.

Pratyush Mukherjee called the mayor twice, pleading with him to soften his stand, but to no avail. Finally, the chief minister himself rang up the mayor, arguing that the mayor’s response to the surgeon-superintendent’s “misbehaviour” defied rationale.

“The surgeon-superintendent should be admonished if he misbehaved with the mayor,” Bhattacharjee later said at Writers’ Buildings. “But why should the whole hospital suffer'” he asked, adding that Chattopadhyay had been “called” to Writers’ Buildings tomorrow.

Mukherjee relented after Bhattacharjee’s call but had no regrets for his behaviour.

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