A-28 year old resident of ward no. 11 of local Mohalla Kaintha, worst-affected area due to contaminated water supply, died at Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGI) in Chandigarh on Saturday midnight.
Pawan Kumar (28) was admitted to local civil hospital for treatment of diarrhoea on July 27 and was referred to Punjab Institute of Medical Sciences in Jalandhar due to his deteriorating condition. From there, he had been referred to PGI, Chandigarh on Saturday.|
He was survived by his mother, wife, a six-year-old daughter and three-month-old baby boy. "He was the only earning hand of the family and was running a small shop of mobile phone repairs in the area to make both ends meet for the family," her ailing wife Geeta Rani said.
"It has been a sudden shock for our family. He complained of loose motions on Thursday. We took him to the local hospital for treatment but due to non-availability of proper facilities, he was discharged. Since then, every moment spent by us is a nightmare for all of us. At PGI, they declared all over for the family," she added.
"People living in Mohalla Kaintha were forced to drink contaminated water supplied through public taps. Despite several complaints made to local civic authorities, nothing was done to redress the situation. More than 600 patients have shown symptoms of diarrhoea in a special camp put up by health officials in the area after the spread of disease," revealed a local Rakesh Kumar.
Sources revealed that the problem in the area worsened due to leak in underground water pipes and sewerage. The supply remained cut for some days due to repair and once it was restored, contaminated water lying stored in the pipes got mixed with the drinking water and was supplied to the residents.
"Almost every family that has not installed water purifiers in their home has been suffered from diarrhoea. The government should take strict action against those who were negligent in their duty and played with the health of people," demanded Surjit Kaur.
"Most families are dependent on a water cooler installed in local gurdwara to meet their drinking water needs. People are afraid of drinking fresh water supplied through taps," she added.
Residents also rued of the apathy of government representatives towards their grievances. "No minister bothered to visit the sufferers to hear their tales of woes. Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal had spent almost four days in the nearby areas; health minister Madan Mohan Mittal, who spent good time in the area before the elections campaigning for the party candidate, did not paid any visit to either local hospital or the houses of sufferers," said Baldev Raj, another local resident.
"Things seemed to have changed dramatically once the elections were over," he added.
The bereaved family appeared before Badal during a sangat darshan programme at Alawalpur where the CM announced a relief of Rs 1.5 lakh to Geeta Rani, the widow of the deceased.
When contacted, health minister Madan Mohan Mittal said that he was in touch with district health authorities on this matter. “I have ordered the health services director to keep personal watch on the situation in the area and report to me regularly. Whatever possible, help would be provided to the sufferers,” he said.
Asked why he kept away from Dasuya till Sunday and area people have been alleging government apathy, he quipped, “When the CM is in the constituency holding sangat darshans to redress their grievances, what is the need of health minister?”
“The area people have reposed faith in the BJP in the recent by-elections and it becomes my moral responsibility to take care of the people. I will soon be there with them to resolve their issues,” he added.
16 new patients admitted in civil hospital
At Dasuya civil hospital, 16 new diarrhoea patients had been admitted on Sunday. "With this, the total number of patients admitted in the hospital has reached 168, out of which 111 patients were discharged after treatment. Three have been referred to other hospitals; the deceased was one of them. The report of stool test, which arrived on Sunday, showed presence of cholera in the sample," revealed senior medical officer Naresh Kansra.
"We had started administering antibiotics keeping the presence of cholera in minds. Nearly 54 patients are under treatment in the hospital, mostly belonging to Mohalla Kaintha of Dasuya. Our camp has been working there uninterruptedly and necessary medicines are being provided to the patients free of cost," he added.