BENGALURU: The Krantivira Sangolli Rayanna (KSR) Railway Station figures among the premier railway stations in the country. However, the absence of a basic amenity like a pharmacy is putting the nearly two lakh passengers and visitors who throng the station on a daily basis to much hardship.
This has been the scene here for nearly three years now. The reason for the lack of a medical shop here is reported to be the exorbitant rent fixed by the Commercial Department of the Bengaluru Railway Division, say insiders familiar with the issue. TNSE spoke to a cross-section of railway officials, passengers and owners of stalls here. A common response was that countless passengers keep asking them each day about any place inside where medicines could be purchased. Tablets to control diarrhoea, indigestion, fever, cold or headache were the most sought after, they say. A stall owner said, “Lakshmi Medicals, which was selling medicines in the concourse area for nearly 15 years, decided to call it a day nearly three years ago. The owner had been paying a monthly rent of Rs 5,000 to the Railways when they set shop. It increased over the years. But three years ago, a sharp hike was effected and they were told to pay Rs 45,000 a month. Then they decided to shut shop,” he said.
A medical shop inside a station does not receive doctor prescriptions and is dependent on small purchases, explains an acquaintance of the pharmacy owner. “The overhead costs, salary for pharmacists and the rent was more than the monthly earnings of the shop and so he closed it.”
A senior railway official said, “Women passengers keep asking for the medical shop to buy sanitary napkins. We tell them that the nearest pharmacy is a 10-minute walk away outside the railway station at the Cottonpet Main Road.”
Senior citizens A Ahalya and Shaktivel were relaxing at the station before heading to Jalahalli. “I forget my sugar or BP medication sometimes and if there is no shop to buy them before a journey, it makes me quite anxious,” Ahalya said.
A medical centre run by Manipal Hospitals offers treatment free of cost. However, it can help in case of injuries inside trains or on the platforms, unbearable pain or serious emergencies. “The hospital is not authorised to sell tablets to the public as it requires a trade licence as well as a pharmacist,” explains a source.
Asked about this vital passenger amenity, Senior Divisional Commercial Manager, Bengaluru Railway Division, N R Sridharamurthy vehemently ruled out any problem.”Who tells you such things? I need proof of it,” he angrily retorted.
General Manager of South Western Railway, A K Singh told TNSE the issue would be redressed. “We will take a compassionate approach. The rent would be subsidised in the case of a pharmacy and and we will ensure it is opened very soon.”