The metro station, next to gate No-1 of AIIMS, continues to be used as a makeshift shelter by relatives of patients undergoing treatment at the country’s premier medical institute.
Despite the presence of a night shelter and two dharmashalas close to the institute that has the capacity to accommodate over 500 people at one go, families of many patients undergoing treatment at the hospital continue to use the AIIMS metro station and the parking space of the institute as their temporary accommodation.
As one moves out of the AIIMS metro station one will come across items like blankets, cartons, bricks, kitchen accessories, luggage, tarpaulin, stove, wooden sheets and food material used by relatives of patients staying there. Not only this, many can be found taking a nap in the backyard of the bus stop next to the metro station.
“We have been living here since December last. It is better off here than the night shelter,” Shashi, whose father is undergoing treatment for a big swelling in the face at AIIMS, said.
Shashi and her parents are staying at the metro station since last December.
She said, “The night shelter has too many restrictions which is nil here. All facilities are nearby and there are many families around who help us in many ways. There is space near the toilet to organise a brick choolah (stove) and prepare food. There is a toilet close by too that we use for our daily chores including washing utensils.
“In the afternoon hours we pack our stuff and stay inside the hospital as it is cold there. We come back during the evening hours. We have to stay here for another one month as by that time my father’s treatment will be over.”
The night shelter, a 600-square-feet waiting room for patients, adjacent to the out-patient registration counter was set up in AIIMS on January 9, following a Supreme Court order to provide refuge to homeless poor relatives of patients undergoing treatment at the hospital.
It is expected to be shut down after the permanent shelter near the dharamshala comes up soon.
“Now I know every nook and corner of this hospital. I do not know the doctors well but I am very well versed with the locations of all departments, the OPDs, the places where different tests are conducted,” Shanti, a resident of Purnia in Bihar who is staying at the AIIMS metro station since October for the treatment of her husband who has been diagnosed with cancer, said.
“When we came here we had a small bag containing our clothes. We now have blankets, bed sheets, utensils and every item needed to run a house. All we got in donations done by people here on regular basis. We do not have enough money to travel up and down so very frequently. That is why we decided to stay here till the treatment is over,” she said.
“Everyday afternoon, I spread the carton sheets like others do here behind the bus stop and go off to sleep. I wake up in the evening and visit my daughter who is undergoing treatment inside,” said an elderly lady who is a new occupant of the place.