When you go to Tata Memorial Hospital at Parel in the evening, you will see hordes of people crowding food stalls along the road leading to the hospital.
Some of the stalls are right outside patients’ window. Clouds of smoke fill the air and drift into the hospital window, making it difficult for patients to breathe.
“I went to the hospital a couple of days ago to see a sick relative. It was a pathetic sight as I found most of the cancer patients gasping for breath and coughing because of the fumes billowing from a Chinese food vendor right below the windows of the hospital wards,” said Javed Khan, a resident of Jogeshwari.
Residents of Parel, relatives of patients visiting Tata Memorial Hospital and hospital staff have raised concerns over the pollution caused by stalls.
Even after filing complaints with the police, no action has been taken, said relatives of patients.
Khan said he spoke to the hospital staff, residents of the area and the local police about the problem. “The hospital authorities said they have complained to the police several times but no action had been taken. Residents do not dare to complain because of the fear of the local goons, who support the eatery,” he said.
The food stalls generally operate from 6pm up to 2am, said residents.
“The eateries are also frequented by drunkards, who consume liquor on the same premises. It is a common sight to see fights among customers. The women who work in shifts at the hospital and the other major hospitals around feel unsafe to walk on the stretch,” said Vikas Patil, resident of the area.
Officials from the cancer research institute told HT that action had been taken time and again by informing local authorities to remove the food stalls.
“After intervention of local authorities, the food stalls are removed for a week and they are back at the same place again. The food will definitely lead to infections because of the unhygienic conditions here,” said SH Jafri, senior public relations officer, Tata Memorial Hospital.
Nearly six years ago, a senior doctor from the hospital had managed to get the civic department and the local police to get the area cleaned. “We had kept it clean for almost three weeks. Supported by local goons, the food stalls were set up again,” said the doctor. “There is a lot of smoke released late in the night and our patients too eat the same unhygienic food.”
RD Shinde, additional commissioner of police, central region, said he had taken cognisance of cancer patients suffering due to smoke released by the food stalls. “We will look into the issue,” he said.