Overflowing sewer, dug-up road greet patients at some of Kathmandu’s big hospitalsUrban planners say that hospital areas are sensitive zones, therefore the local governments and the hospital administration themself should be extra cautious.
On Friday Bishnu Khanal, 46, took his mother-in-law Narayani Nainawasti, 86, for her eye surgery to the TU Teaching Hospital, Maharajgunj, but when he stopped the taxi in front of the BP Koirala Lions Center for Ophthalmic Studies, he was shocked to see the overflowing sewage at its gates.
“It’s stinking sewage, and I had to be very careful in crossing the leaked sewage as she could barely see what was there,” said Khanal.
Like Khanal, hundreds of patients, dozens of doctors and hospital staff are compelled to put up with the foul smell and need to be extra careful while walking on the road. Not only for eye patients, the leaked sewage has troubled those who need to visit the emergency ward.
“People go to the hospital for treatment but the foul smell and this mismanagement makes normal people irritated. This is so embarrassing to see the stinking sewage on the premises of such a big and reputed hospital,” said Khanal who came from Dhobhichaur.
It’s not only Khanal, Babulal Lama, 50, who has been running canteen on the premises of the eye hospital for the past seven years said the leakage of drain has been taking place for the past four years and the hospital administration has done nothing to resolve the problem.
Urban planners say that the drainage and garbage problem on the hospital premises should be managed by the hospital itself. “The hospital should be more sensitive about the issue,” said Kishor Thapa, a former government secretary and an urban planning expert.
“Because of the foul smell, people hardly come to my canteen. Even doctors and staff are facing this problem but nobody bothers to repair the system,” said Lama.
When the Post contacted Kamal Ghimire, administration chief of the Ophthalmic Studies, he acknowledged the problem and said the problem is beyond the hospital’s capacity to solve. “We all are suffering, we are trying our best to solve this issue but we have failed about it,” said Ghimire.
He blamed the Bhat-Bhateni Superstore, which has been constructing an annex at the hospital, for the sewage overflow. “Bhatbhatani has been constructing an emergency building for TU Teaching Hospital, but it didn’t consider the management of drainage, until Bhatbhatani opens it, the problem won’t be solved,” said Ghimire.
When the Post contacted Min Bahadur Gurung, the chairman and managing director of Bhat-Bhateni Group to inquire about the problem, he said the accusation is baseless. “As per our charity efforts, we are constructing a building for the hospital and have allocated Rs 150 million for the work, do you think we do not consider the drainage system?” said Gurung. “That is why there is no working condition in Nepal,” Gurung added.
This is not only the case of the TU Teaching Hospital, the sewage problem has been a perennial problem for Bir Hospital, the country's oldest hospital. With multiple complaints from the general public, doctors and staff from the Trauma Center and Bir Hospital, the Kathmandu Metropolitan City and Kathmandu Upatyaka Khanepani Limited had said they had sorted out the problem a few months ago.
“But when it rains, the roads in front of the Bir Hospital and Trauma Centre get waterlogged with drain water,” said Nanda Lal Sah, 40, who runs a juice shop below the overhead bridge that links the Khula Manch and the Bir Hospital. When the Post reached the area on Sunday, still the western side of the road, that is linked with Bir Hospital and Truma’s footpath and up to New Road Gate, one could see the sewage with foul smell on the roadside.
“Now summer has come. It will be really difficult to breathe here if this sewage problem is not addressed properly,” Shah said.
When the Post contacted Dr Peeyush Dahal, dean at the National academy of Medical Sciences, at Bir Hospital he said this problem was a genuine concern. “This problem should be solved permanently as it is very sensitive. Local, federal and central governments should work together to solve this problem,” said Dahal.
Meanwhile, the road that leads to Prasuti Griha from Thapathali Chowk has been dug for over a month, and has been left full of dirt.
Samjhana Dhungana, whom the Post met at the maternity hospital’s gate who was discharging her niece who gave birth on Saturday, said she was shocked to see the bumpy road section and the trouble faced by the pregnant women visiting the hospital.
“Last week when we brought my niece during night-time for child delivery, it was raining and the road was bumpy and was slippery at the same time, and now it's sunny and it’s too dusty. Imagine its impact on pregnant women and the newborn,” said Dhungana, 30, who came from Kapan.
Apart from the bumpy and dusty road, leaking sewage in front of the Norvic Hospital is a perennial problem and though Norvic is taken as a hospital for VVIP people, its entry gate stinks of the sewage and the road has been left bumpy for over a month.
Krishna Prasad Pandey, 40, who has been running Palpali Bhojanalaya for the past 14-years in the area said his business has gone down due to the dusty road. “People refuse to come here to eat because of the dust, also we can’t live without masks, more than of the Coronavirus, we are fed up with the dust,” said Pandey.
“If the road that leads to the country's two finest hospitals seated in juxtaposition has not been maintained for over a month, you can imagine other places,” said Pandey. He said he is fed up with cleaning his eatery every morning with water as a pile of mud gets inside with the little customer who comes.
When the Post contacted ward-11 chairperson Hiralal Tandukar under whose jurisdiction the construction work has been taking place at Thapathali, to inquire about the treacherous road condition, he admitted of being late. “It’s because we need to be very conscious while digging the area as there are underground telephone cables, Melamchi water pipe lines and electricity lines, this area is very complicated,” said Tandukar.
He said a total of Rs 30 million has been allocated for repairing the inner road from Thapathali to Babarmahal, and for overall management work such as laying the drainage pipe and maintaining and widening the footpaths.
“There is a separate committee formed that includes the traffic police, and officials from Norvic Hospital and Prasuti Griha to coordinate the work. We will complete this work as soon as possible,’ said Tandukar.
However, the local shop owners say the road section is the most vulnerable, and that gets dug time and again under various pretexts and left in a sorry state.
Urban planners say that hospital areas are sensitive zones, therefore the local governments and the hospital administration themself should be extra cautious.
“If there is a drainage issue inside the hospital premises, the hospital administration should look into the problem, and in case of Thapathali and Bir Hospital, it’s the local body that should work on it without any delay,” said Thapa.
After the local election in 2017, it’s the local government’s responsibility to look after the city’s infrastructure and its maintenance, but the Kathmandu Metropolitan City has been saying that it’s the Kathmandu Upatyaka Khanepani Limited’s Department of Water Supply and Sewerage which should look into the issue and there is a blame game going on.
“For the problem at Thapathali it’s KMC’s responsibility, but for the Bir Hospital KUKL is responsible, but the KMC has been voluntarily helping to resolve the problem at Thapathali,” said Ram Thapa, Chief of Physical Infrastructure Department at the city.
Meanwhile, Milan Kumar Shakya, acting manager at KUKL says it has already installed a bypass drain line. “The logged water might have leaked from the drinking water pipe. I will send our official to inspect the area,” said Shakya. “Last time we solved the problem because the whole blame was put on us though the city office is equally responsible for it, we are committed to addressing this problem.”
There has been a lot of commitment from the officials in the bureaucracy towards solving the issue. Before being elected as the city’s new mayor in May 2017, Bidya Sundar Shakya in his election manifesto had pleaded to solve Kathmandu’s drainage problem as his first priority, but the problem is intact even after three years.
Another urban planner Suman Mehar Shrestha says such a tendency among government officials shows how weak our bureaucracy is at the implementation level.
“Everyone knows that hospitals are sensitive locations, doctors keep on lecturing about personal hygiene but looking at the hospitals and the mismanagement of their surroundings and the infrastructure shows how backward we are in practical approach,” said Shrestha.
“If the problem of hospital’s drain or hygiene is not addressed on time, this may someday cause another pandemic; this is a serious issue and it should be addressed without delay,” said Shrestha.