New Delhi: 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
Sashi and his 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-ft 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," an elderly lady who is a new occupant of
the place said.