BENGALURU: Whole world came crashing down around 74-year-old G Vasudev when he was diagnosed with throat cancer. A former theatre projector operator, Vasudev had been unemployed for some time after the theatre closed down. The added expenses of cancer treatment without a steady income became an inevitable burden on his family.
However, Vasudev had a ray of hope. Concessions in his medical expenses were possible with a Below Poverty Line (BPL) card, which is issued by the Food and Civil Supplies Department. He applied for the BPL card in February last year. A year later, he still awaits the BPL card, and much of the hope has been replaced by anger and a sense of disbelief.
With treatment costs as high as Rs 7,000 per sitting, the family is struggling hard to survive. Hailing from Bengaluru, Vasudev lived with his wife and children in a small rented house in Ulsoor for the past 20 years. He worked with a private agency and also as a projector operator at a single screen theatre. After the theatre shut, he was left with no job or savings. He was staying at a rented house with his wife and daughter’s family in a single room house near Ulsoor.
“Last year during January-February, I suffered pain in the right side of my throat. We went to a private clinic nearby and I was given pain-killers. But the pain did not subside and a lump formed and burst later. With unbearable pain, I went to Victoria Hospital where they referred me to an ENT (Ear-Nose-Throat) specialist. The doctors there suspected throat cancer and asked us to go to Kidwai. At both the Victoria and Kidwai hospitals, they asked for a BPL card, which I did not have,’’ said Vasudev. He was eventually diagnosed with cancer.
Vasudev’s daughter Manjula has been taking care of the family. “With my limited resources, I was taking care of them along with the three children of mine. But ever since he has been diagnosed with cancer, I am struggling hard to make ends meet,’’ she said.
“We even went to a private hospital. The first thing they asked us if we had a BPL card. When we said no, they asked us to pay Rs 30,000 and get him admitted. For us, this is a huge amount. We did not admit him there. When we went to Bowring hospital to get an injection, they charged Rs 3,600 as we did not have the BPL card. That is when we applied for BPL card at an enrolment centre in Ulsoor on February 15, 2017. It’s almost a year now, and there is no sign of my father getting the card,’’ Manjula told The New Indian Express.
Vasudev has to go for chemotherapy once in 21 days, for which they have to spend Rs 7,000. This apart, for blood tests twice a month, they spend Rs 1,200. “I have taken money from friends and even pledged my jewellery,’’ said Manjula.
Kalidasa Reddy, an activist and an advocate said that under Article 21, health and medical care is a fundamental right. “Vasudev is only asking for his rights and he is eligible to get the BPL card,’’ he added.
When contacted, U T Khader, Minister for Food and Civil Supplies, said, one should get the card within 28 days. “In BBMP limits, 1.65 lakh people had applied and around 80,000 cards have been printed and dispatched.” Khader assured that Vasudev will get BPL card at the earliest.