Until Thursday morning, authorities of the Government Raja Sir Ramaswamy Mudaliar (RSRM) Lying-in Hospital were unaware that drinking water was being sold to pregnant women and mothers on the hospital premises.

A surprise inspection by senior hospital authorities revealed the unauthorised selling of ‘mineral’ water to patients arriving at the hospital.

According to several patient and their caregivers, they have had to spend Rs. 6 for a litre of water, which was sold at a telephone booth on the premises of the hospital, as the water available in the wards was not potable. However, hospital authorities denied this.

“The water available in the hospital is totally unfit for drinking. So, we mostly buy the ‘mineral’ water from the phone booth or bring water from home,” said the mother of a pregnant woman. Another patient’s attendant said the water available at the hospital was highly chlorinated and could not be consumed by pregnant women and new mothers.

Some of them preferred to get water from nearby tea shops. A roadside shop outside the hospital sells used plastic bottles for Rs. 5 that patients buy and use.

Making things worse for patients here are the floors of the bathrooms and toilets in the in-patient block, which are wet and slippery.

“I do not use the toilets in the morning as they are very dirty and cleaned only later during the day. The floor is always inundated with water and expectant mothers have to walk carefully to avoid a fall. In fact, it is very scary to walk on the bathroom floor,” said a pregnant patient from IOC Nagar.

On Thursday, S. Geethalakshmi, dean of Government Stanley Medical College Hospital conducted a surprise inspection at the hospital.

“We found out that water was being sold without permission at the telephone booth and immediately stopped it. Potable water is available inside the hospital and we have installed a Reverse Osmosis plant and water filters,” Dr. Geethalakshmi said.

Pregnant women and new mothers had to buy water at Rs. 6 per litre as water in the wards was not potable