The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Trying time for cancer patients

Calcutta, July 8: Patients at the Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute had a harrowing time last night and most of today after power lines snapped, throwing several services into disarray.

The ordeal, which began at 10 pm yesterday, ended around 7 this evening after power supply was restored at the only institute of its kind in the city.

Four operations were cancelled and two patients walked out of the institute in disgust, unable to tolerate the situation. CT scan services and radiotherapy were suspended. There are about 200 patients in the institute.

“It is difficult to explain how I suffered through the night. There were no lights, I was in pain and I couldn’t sleep,” said Bablu Saha, a patient with throat cancer.

To make matters worse, water supply was disrupted by a leak in the supply line. Telephone lines, too, were affected.

This is the first time in recent months that such a thing has happened in a medical institute in the city. The last was at the BC Roy Memorial Hospital for Children where four babies died last September after a two-hour power cut.

“It is extremely unfortunate that patients had to suffer for so many hours. It was our inability that we could not organise generators at night to restore power,” said Jahar Majumdar, the medical superintendent of the institute.

Power snapped around 10 pm when the nurses were on their rounds, plunging all departments in the three-storeyed building into pitch darkness. Resident medical officers were immediately informed and candles supplied to every department. The windows were thrown open and patients asked to bear with the situation.

Two hours later, the staff called up Majumdar asking him to intervene. He called up the Public Health Engineering department and informed CESC authorities. But engineers who rushed to the spot failed to rectify the fault.

At 10 this morning, a generator supplied power to the institute’s office and a few pockets. There was some trouble after relatives of patients who waited for several hours this morning demanded to know why alternative arrangements were not in place.

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