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Govt unable to contact outpatients

mumbai Updated: Jul 30, 2011 01:53 IST
Priya Prabhakaran

The government wants to compensate people who suffered minor injuries in the July 13 serial blasts, but is having trouble tracing them. Treated and discharged as outpatients, most did not leave any contact details. This lack of data is turning out to be a major headache for the collector's office, which is now handing out cheques.

Victims of terror admitted to hospitals receive a compensation of Rs 1 lakh, while those who suffer a disability receive Rs 3 lakh. Families of deceased are given Rs 5 lakh. However, those treated at outpatient departments were previously not eligible for compensation. This changed after the July 13 blasts; the state government passed a government resolution (GR) making outpatients eligible for a compensation of Rs 10,000.

While the collector's office has compensated most of the 93 victims who were admitted to hospitals, it could trace only 14 of the 28 patients who were treated in outpatient departments. “Once patients are discharged from the hospital, it becomes difficult to trace them,” said city collector, Chandrashekhar Oak. “My team has worked overnight for three days to give compensation cheques to people as any delay would only make our work difficult. We will work out a strategy to trace the other 14 outpatients in a day or two,” Oak said.

Twenty-three-year-old Sandesh Agre, a clerk at a jewellery store in Zaveri Bazar is one of the victims who was treated as an outpatient and received the compensation. “Bhatia Hospital employees were kind enough to take my contact details before sending me home, which is why I could get the compensation,” said Agre, who injured his left hand in the blast. He got a call from the collector's office a week after the incident.

But not everyone is as lucky. Several hospitals discharged outpatients after noting just their names. Saifee Hospital treated 15 blast victims as outpatients — the highest across all city hospitals. Of these, the collector's office managed to hand over cheques to just seven. Bhatia Hospital had seven outpatient victims but had contact details of only five. JJ Hospital, GT Hospital and Hurkisondas Hospital did not receive any blast victim who could be treated as an outpatient.
To ensure that people don't make bogus claims for compensation, the collector's office has worked out a strategy, which it doesn't want to reveal for obvious reasons.