Bins, construction material litter Corporation maternity hospital yard in T. Nagar; compound wall is public urinal; residents claim deliveries are no longer conducted here

A Chennai Corporation maternity hospital has turned into a dumping ground for garbage, bins and construction material.

The hospital, on Sivagnanam Street behind Pondy Bazaar, used to be patronised by residents of localities such as Amudham Colony, Thomas Road and Mambalam High Road near Doraisamy subway. It was commissioned during the tenure of former Chief Minister K. Kamaraj, to function as a maternity hospital. Until 2004, the two-storey structure had four beds and a doctor who came daily.

But after private contractors were brought in to remove garbage in the area, the hospital’s yard began to be used as parking lot for garbage bins. Soon compactors also began to be parked in the yard.

The hospital is situated in a prime location, a stone’s throw from the T. Nagar head post office. But the building is dilapidated, and 15 families of construction workers from Andhra Pradesh who are employed for stormwater drain work nearby, have made it their home. The main entrance has been taken over by mounds of sand, tricycles that collect garbage and compactors. Another entrance has been provided to the health post on Radhakrishnan Street.

According to G. Neelamegam of Ambedkar Vizhipunarvu Pasarai (an awareness organisation), after filing a Right to Information petition in 2007, the organisation learnt that there were 30 urban health centres under the then Chennai Corporation’s limits. The civic body also claimed that all were in good working condition.

“My daughter was admitted in this hospital for childbirth in 2001. But since 2005, no deliveries have been conducted here,” he said. “The doctors would send the women to maternity hospitals in Kodambakkam or Saidapet. We don’t even access it during emergencies,” he added.

A public library was set up in 1985 on the premises, but remains neglected to date. The compound wall of the hospital has been a public urinal for over a decade, despite the pay-and-use toilets on Venkatnarayana Road.

“The stench is unbearable here. When it rains no one can come in as the entrance is flooded. An entrance on Radhakrishnan Street would help the library users,” says library assistant T. Pandian.

Despite the poor sanitary conditions, people continue to visit the library to read newspapers and borrow books.

According to the information board at the health post, it covers a population of 50,303 and 4,985 children.

A doctor visits twice a week and antenatal checks and screenings for cervical cancer are done at the dispensary, said a patient. But some employees said the construction workers use up all the water.

According to one, the electricity bill for the one-room structure amounts to around Rs. 30,000. “Water is scarce and given the nature of work we do here, we should be assured of continuous water supply,” the employee said.