Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cost of living : Water is luxury for many in Jammu rural areas

Cost of living: Water is luxury for many in Jammu rural areas

Salman Nizami

JAMMU July 22 : For the family of Sham Lal getting water for domestic use is an uphill task. Everyday the womenfolk in his house had to drive handcart to a nearby village Birpur (Baribrahmana), two kilometers away, to fill up water in barrels and plastic jars from a canal.
Sham’s family in village belt is just one among hundreds of others, who follow similar techniques to meet their daily water requirements. This practice is going on in these villages like this for last so many decades.
Nowadays well off families in the village ensure the delivery of water tanks inside their homes at a cost. For a tractor carrying 1600 liters of water, they have to pay Rs 700. "Since diesel pumps are used to fill up the tanks and barrels and then ferry the same to houses, we charge them the freight that is incurred on the delivery of water barrels," says, a tractor driver.
However, for Sham spending a sum of Rs 700 everyday on water requirement alone is quite unaffordable. People like Sham continue to use handcarts to ferry the tanks and barrels filled with water manually, to use it back home. "Keeping in view my daily income, I can't think of spending such an amount on water for entire one month and not to talk of a single day. I am a poor man and my family brings water like this even daring rains and harsh winters," he said."I don't see any hope in the government and for me water is as precious as oil," says pessimistic Sham.
Non-availability of portable drinking water to the people living in this area is adding up to the worries of villagers. Repeated pleas to the district administration and politicians has not yield any desired result.
Though Public Health Engineering (PHE) department has covered the area under piped water supply but regular water supply to the area is still a distant dream. People say they rarely get tap water. "In a period of one month we receive water supply once or twice for one hour only. So who would rely on that," said Mohan Lal Sharma, an octogenarian in the village.
Mohan says the villagers face a lot of difficulties in wake of water shortage. Women folk in the village have to walk miles to wash dishes and clothes in unhygienic channel. "Successive governments have deliberately ignored us. Since we live in this area they don't bother to care about us. Officials spend money in a wrong manner to fill their pockets. One serious thought to this problem can quench over years of thirst," said Gaurav Sharma, another resident of Birpur Baribrahmana.
Some people in the area managed to dig hand pumps; however the water contains dirt and grit. Its quality has been found unhygienic for consumption. The water has pungent smell and good quantity of Sulphur and iron in it. Even government too is said to have dug a well but that too proved to be a failure."The wells in the area emanate gas for some time and dry up fast," said Ravi Shanker a resident.
Officials at PHE Jammu admit that during summers these areas face acute water shortage but complain the paucity of funds a reason for not ensuring the water supply.
Technical experts say that water supply scheme Baribrahmana that stands already sanctioned for the area need to be upgraded. The source of this scheme is natural spring.
The outskirts of Jammu city too remain hit by absence of continuous supply of drinking water.
Although state government claims that it has taken up several projects to ensure water supply to the people, the huge gap between demand and supply is causing lot of hardships to the residents. So far no non-governmental organization has taken up any project in hand to relieve the people of the problem in wake of constant government apathy.

GMC hospital’s emergency needs ‘emergency surgery’

Salman Nizami
JAMMU July 22 : On last Friday night, a patient namely Nargis Begum of Gujjar Nagar Jammu who was seriously ill and wasn’t even able to move was brought to the Government Medical college and hospital’s emergency ward, her attendants accompanied her found no empty bed or chair and realized how hard life could be in a hospital in Jammu.
First there was no chair or a bed around where the patient could be placed. After hectic efforts, when a chair was found, the doctor in the emergency was apparently in no mood to examine the patient.
The attendant insisted the doctor to examine the patient. But ostensibly tired of the hard work, he casually enquired what the patient’s problem was. It irritated the attendant. Before he could say anything more, the doctor asked the attendant to get the admit card.
To get the admit card is a Herculean task. Everyone there is in hurry but for the person who issues the card. It takes at least 20 minutes to get the card. And every minute counts when it is a question of human life.
He got the admit card and placed it before the doctor. He looked at the card and started examining another patient. Infuriated, the attendant shouted at the doctor. The young doctor shouted back. But soon he realized the agony of the attendant and agreed to examine the patient. After half an hour, the patient was asked to go for an x-ray and ECG. After checking the reports of x-ray and ECG, the doctor told the attendant that the patient needs cardiac checkup, which isn’t possible in the evening. A senior doctor pleading anonymity told this correspondent that, “In all the super specialty hospitals across India,
Emergency wards are well equipped with basic facilities, but at GMC Jammu, it is a mess. All the facilities should be under one roof in emergency, but I’m at loss to understand why authorities here are playing with the lives of patients.”
But the larger question remains? When will this institute of Jammu continue to live with dying emergency wards? It has more patients, less doctors and a very few beds. Appreciating the write up in Early Times in the months of June 2009 issue that there in only one blood pressure apparatus, next day 10 new BP apparatus were made available in the emergency. Completing admission formalities here are more important than saving life. Two or three junior doctors have to attend hundreds of patients visiting the emergency and in case of any blast or accident, the situation turns graver. Medical Superintendent GMC agrees with the views, but with a caveat. “We need a separate emergency to cater the huge rush of patients.
The Medical Superintendent said that on short-term basis, the existing emergency would be renovated. “We’re doing some re-structuring of the emergency and creating backup wards.”
But he also blamed people for creating mess in the emergency. “GMC is a specialty hospital. But patients who should be treated in primary health centers also flood the GMC, which creates the mess. Quality and quantity can never go together,” he added.

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