Coopers (Nadia), April 2: Around 200 youths today brought out a 90km cycle rally from Coopers Camp to Swasthya Bhawan in Calcutta where they would arrive tomorrow and submit a memorandum demanding restoration of service of a 100 bed hospital in Cooper’s camp that has been allegedly closed by the state government assuring a new one.
The cycle rally that was flagged off from Kali Bari ground was part of the movement launched by the Maryada Suraksha Andolon, a consortium of residents of Cooper’s camp municipal area, who are mostly rehabilitated refugees for whom the centre converted an army health unit and rehabilitation centre into a full-fledged 100bed hospital after independence.
The hospital, which stopped admission of in patient in 1990 following a state government order, was a major support to over two lakh people of Cooper’s Municipality, a major part of Ranaghat Municipality (6 wards) and four adjacent gram panchayats (Shyamnagar, Nokari, Baidyapur , Majhergram) as they face serious difficulties to reach Ranaghat sub divisional hospital, 7 km away, due to two railway crossing and heavy traffic congestion.
Bishu Pal, a driver said: “It often takes about one and half hour to reach Ranaghat hospital. I have experienced patients died and women in labor pain delivered in my car.”
Surajit Barai, secretary of MSA said: “The cyclists would hand over the demand for restoration of the hospital and also demand for construction of a new hospital as assured by the state government which also laid its foundation stone five years ago. But the construction work never started rather a building was demolished leaving only a small OPD clinic operational from where no medicine distributed now”.
Chairman of Trinamul ruled Coopers Municipal board Sibu Byne acknowledged: “The grievance is genuine one. The hospital was lifeline of Cooper’s. Demolition and suspension of service was not a good decision. We have submitted a proposal to state government to allow us to construct a new hospital here”.
Locals alleged that the issue of hospital revived only before the municipal poll. Cooper’s would go for poll in May.
In 2012, before the civic poll, PHE minister Subrata Mukherjee laid foundation for a super specialty hospital in Cooper’s. But construction never started during last five years. Trinamul sources claimed that the party lost interest to the project as it miserably lost in the civic poll.
Sources in district administration said the land was never handed over to PHE Department by RR Department.
PHE Minister Subrata Mukherjee said: “There were some administrative problems for which the project could not be executed. However, the government would definitely reconsider the project if any fresh demand is made”
According to local sources during the Second World War the Cooper’s camp area was developed as a small cantonment by the Indian army then under British control, where a big medical unit was built for the soldiers.
Local resident Tanmay Chakraborty said: “It was a specialized hospital with separate maternity unit, tuberculosis unit, and pox unit. After independence, the government of India used Coopers’ camp area for rehabilitation of the Bangladeshi refugees, where they often gathered for treatment. Gradually, the hospital became the basic health service provider to over two lakh people in the area”.
During 1960, the centre handed over the hospital to the state RR department. But, state government reduced to 50bed hospital.
“It further decreased its bed strength to 30 in 1980 and in 1990 admission of indoor patients were stopped. Only a small weekly OPD clinic kept operational creating a major problem to the people”, said Surajit Barai.
In 2012, the ruling Trinamul Congress made an all out effort to oust the Congress ruled Municipal board.
Local resident Tanmay Chakraborty said: “Trinamul had made the hospital an issue in the Municipal poll in 2012. It assured the people of a full-fledged new hospital and laid it’s foundation. But nothing was done. Eventually Congress retained the board defeating Trinamul. It bagged 11 out of 12 seats.Trinamul later got control of the civic board after all 11 Congress councilors defected and joined the party; nevertheless, they never bothered to revive the demand”.
Rather it allegedly demolished a part of the hospital.
Chairman Sibu Byne said: “I don’t know who were behind demolition. But, I want a hospital here to be built by municipality for which a proposal has been submitted to the municipal affairs Department. V MBI am don’t want a super specialty hospital, rather a small one with maternity and other basic care facilities. We have also requested the government to handover land from RR Department and waiting for approval”.