Sunday, Dec 22, 2002
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By Our Staff Reporter
If you think pavements serve the sole purpose of walking, think again. This pavement triples up as the bedroom, toilet and even kitchen. The fire put out, there is cooked rice. And ash. Ash to ash. Dust to dust. Like water on dry earth, days evaporate and life wanes. Death is not a possibility here, but inevitability.
This is a heartrending scene at the MNJ Cancer Hospital, the largest hospital in the State offering cancer treatment free of cost to the poor. Patients, outpatients and their kith and kin attending on them live on the pavements near the hospital faced with an acute lack of living space and an even bigger affliction, poverty. "These are inhumane conditions and providing them decent living space is the least we can do," affirmed the Inspector-General, Special Protection Force, Tejdeep Kaur Menon.
On a mission to provide a roof for cancer patients who throng the hospital, Ms. Menon and her organisation, Bani Sharanam Foundation in association with the State branch of the Red Cross Society have embarked on an unique project to build a 360-bed dormitory at a cost of Rs. 2.5 crore. "It is so depressing here. They need a better atmosphere, one that fills them with hope," affirmed Haripriya Ranjarajan, the Governor's wife, at a function organised to mobilise support for the project.
The poorest of the poor and illiterate, many, who are not even aware of the gravity of the disease they are suffering from, avail services of the hospital, including a large number of patients from Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa. And live there. Household essentials like stoves and utensils line up the walls to the hospital's CT Scan and ultrasound unit and every possible corner. The sick and the infirm on the fringes of life rest on the dusty floor in long rows with bare minimum space to stretch their weak limbs.
Making a fervent appeal to people, particularly the corporates, to donate for the cause, the Secretary, State unit of Red Cross Society, K. Rajyalakshmi, and Ms. Menon said efforts were on to get cent per cent Income Tax exemption for donations made towards construction of the dormitory. They said corporate houses like Dr. Reddy's Labs (Rs. 5 lakhs), Shanta Biotech (Rs. 3 lakhs) had donated liberally and organisations like Rotary Club of Hyderabad and the Round Table members had assured their participation. One Balakrishna Reddy, a doctor, made an on-the-spot donation of Rs. 5 lakhs. The first phase of the project is likely to be completed in a year. B.N. Rao, the Institute director, spoke.
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