TAMIL NADU

On the median, with sky as roof

Relatives of patients, admitted to the JIPMER hospital in Pondicherry, sleeping on the median in front of the hospital.

Relatives of patients, admitted to the JIPMER hospital in Pondicherry, sleeping on the median in front of the hospital.  

PONDICHERRY March 29. Unmindful of the heavy traffic on the busy Dindivanam highway, men and women sleep on the median in front of JIPMER, forgetting their worries. At least some 50 people whose relatives are admitted to the hospital spend the night on the middle of the road amidst the roar of speeding lorries and buses.

Though lodging is available for those visiting the hospital at Re.1 and Rs. 2 per day, many people stay on the median due to their inability to pay even that meagre amount. Most of them are daily wage labourers from nearby places like Thiruvannamalai and Kallakuruchi, who cannot afford to spend on stay for a long period during the treatment and are, therefore, forced to sleep on the median.

Pechi and her husband, who have come from Kallakuruchi to treat their one -and-a-half-year-old mentally retarded child, have been staying on the median with the sky as their roof.

Pechi said they were earlier staying in rooms but had to shift to the median, as they had exhausted their money.

There are others like Amina from Thiruvannamalai, who prefer to stay on the median though they can afford to stay in rooms. Amina, whose aunt is admitted in the hospital, says that the rooms outside the hospital available for Re.1are not properly maintained.

She chose not to stay in the rooms provided inside the JIPMER campus for relatives of patients, which is available for Rs. 2 per day, as the entrance is locked after 7 p.m. and are opened only around 6 a.m., which is very inconvenient for her since she would like to leave for home by the 4.45 a.m bus.

Till now there have been no major accidents in which vehicles have hit the median, though there have been instances of people being hit by speeding vehicles while attempting to cross the road from the median, says the local traffic policeman.

Despite the efforts of the police to remove these people, they continue to stay here.

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