Taxi driver building hospital near Kolkata to feature in PM Modi’s Mann ki Baat
Deeply affected by the death of his 18-year-old sister due to lack of medical treatment in 2004, Laskar took to building a hospital in his village Punri, about 40 km to the south of Kolkata in the district of South 24 Parganas.
Md Sohidul Laskar, a 46 year-old cab driver, who is building a hospital in a village on the outskirts of Kolkata, will appear in a special programme on the 50th episode of prime minister Narendra Modi’s Mann Ki Baat on Sunday.
Laskar, a class 9 drop-out, started driving taxis for a living in 1993 when he was 21.
Deeply affected by the death of his 18-year-old sister due to lack of medical treatment in 2004, Laskar took to building a hospital in his village Punri, about 40 km to the south of Kolkata in the district of South 24 Parganas, which does not have a primary health centre.
With the money earned from driving, contributions from passengers, the sale of three taxis and his wife’s jewellery, he has so far invested about ₹42 lakh in the project.
“I might have lost my jewellery. But the smile that I see on the face of the villagers after getting treatment at the hospital more than compensates for the loss,” said Laskar’s wife Shamima.
Laskar also makes it a point to tell his passengers about his project. “Many of them contribute to my dream not only with money, but also with medicine,” said Laskar, who bought about 28,800 sqft of land in 2008 to start building his dream.
As word spread, doctors volunteered to help his cause without charging.
“I have pledged to support his hospital and make it the most efficient,” wrote optometrist Joy Chowdhury on his social media wall.
“I don’t have enough funds to run the hospital round the clock. Right now, I organise medical camps inviting doctors across a range of disciplines such as general medicine, gynaecology, paediatrics, orthopaedic and opthalmology. But I don’t accept fees. I also offer medicines for free as far as possible,” said Laskar.
He, however, admits that offering free treatment for ever is not going to be feasible. He would chalk out a fee structure when he would set up a fully functioning hospital.
Right now, he has a two-storey building ready under the name of Marufa Smriti Welfare Foundation and runs medical camps where free treatment and medicines are given. Laskar hopes to have a completely functioning hospital in his village one day.
“I have drawn up a project report for the hospital that treats people for free in a clean environment. It entails an investment of ₹12 crore. I want to submit the file to the prime minister, who can perhaps help me,” said Laskar, who takes the help of his 14-year-old son for organising medical camps.
Mann Ki Baat is a programme hosted by Modi and aired by All India Radio and Doordarshan.
“The recording for the one hour programme will take place on Sunday morning and it will be telecast in the evening,” said Laskar quoting the invitation sent to him on November 22 by the director of DD News.