Though Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, during his visit to the drug deaddiction centre at the civil hospital here on June 5, had announced free treatment for drug addicts, yet they are still being charged Rs. 200 per day.
“The Punjab government is going to provide best possible facilities with a free OPD at the drug de-addiction centre. A separate department will be set up to deal with the problem and MBBS doctors will also be trained to treat the addicts,” said the chief minister during his visit when he met addicts also.
However, patients at the centre have a different story to tell, “We have to pay Rs. 200 a day, so it is difficult to undergo treatment for a longer period. If the services and treatment will be free of cost, patients will voluntarily come forward for their treatment”, said Harinder Pal Singh (42), who is a farmer and has been undergoing treatment for the last two days.
The centre, which has a capacity of admitting 25 patients at a time, has only 5 staff members to look after them, while the outpatient department (OPD) of the civil hospital receives somewhere around 400 patients every day. Sources said the centre is in a dire need of financial assistance to maintain and improve its services as it is running in losses and has no funds to meet it obligations as it has to cater to a large number of addicts belonging to states like Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab.
The authorities claimed that this was the only de-addiction centre, which provides best possible services, so patients from across the state come here.
Presently, the centre receives Rs. 5 lakh annual funds from the HMEL-HPCL refinery, which, authorities claim, are not enough to run the centre efficiently.