CHENNAI:For the past few months, city hospitals have been reeling under a disruption in water supply through pipelines. That it has affected patients, attenders and medical professionals in the hospitals will be an understatement.
Hospitals like Government Kasturba Gandhi Hospital (KGH) for Women and Children, Chepauk and Royapettah Government Hospitals are spending thousands of rupees each month to buy metro water, even for basic hospital needs. “Recently we had to postpone non-emergency surgeries because there was no water in the operation theatre,” said a source at Government Royapettah Hospital. “Then, we realised that patients and their attenders were using water in the wards that we purchased and stored. We’ve now put a separate line of water supply for the operation theatre, but after a surgery is completed, we close the valve so that others don’t use it.”
A staff at the hospital, who did not want to be named, said there had been days, when there was no water supply continuously for two to three days. “We had to write a memo to the management to supply water to the wards, and only then the water supply resumed. More often than not, there is no water in the toilet also. This affects patients and their attenders a lot more than anyone else,” the staff said.
Another staff in the hospital added that they were stocking water for high demand departments like post-operative wards, operation theatres, etc. “Also, we have to lock certain toilets in the hospitals to make sure patients’ attenders don’t use them. Because they wash clothes, bathe and this takes up too much water,” he said.
Kausalya, an attender at the maternity ward in KGH, said, “My daughter delivered a baby three days ago. There was no water in the ward. Other attenders told me to use another ward, as there was little water supply in this ward. For drinking and other purposes, we buy water from outside,” she said.
As expected, a group of people have started water business, where a bottle of water is sold for Rs 3 and Rs 5 respectively depending on the size of the bottle. “A few people who can afford it are going out and buying water bottles. But those who cannot, like me, get refills in small bottles for Rs 3 per bottle…that’s almost Rs 30 every day,” said a sexagenarian, in-patient at the Orthopaedic ward of KGH. “Even the water through the pipeline was black in colour and the stench was unbearable. I have not taken bath for days. How can I go home for this? My house is in Kanchipuram. I got admitted here for knee pain, but this water crisis is making life hell here,” she rued.
A few of the attenders at KGH depend on a pay-and-use toilet in the hospital campus for taking bath and also for washing patients’ clothes. “I’ve come from Tambaram; I cannot go home to wash my daughter’s clothes, who has recently delivered a baby in the maternity ward. So I have to depend on this toilet,” Kamala, an attender said.
Commenting on this, Dr Mayilvahanan, deputy superintendent, GH in Royapettah, said, “We’ve been purchasing 12 lorries of water each day. Pipeline supply is meagre, but we are managing with both. Though the tankers fill sumps, they’re not regular in supply; that’s when we find it a bit hard,” he explained. Dr Elango, resident medical officer, KGH said, “We are purchasing 16 lorries of water each day, because six wells in the hospital have dried up. The supply was disrupted and hasn’t been repaired for the last one week because of some faulty lines in the area. I heard metro water people are attending to it. Again, since water shortage is felt across the city, nothing much can be done, other than depending on bore wells. We are planning to dig more wells in the hospital in the coming days,” he said.
Speaking to CE, a Metro Water official said, “Pipeline supply is affected due to water shortage in the city. In Chepauk, we are cleaning the pipeline. It will take 10 days to finish the work,” he said.