With Candles, Flashlights, Hospital In Assam Struggles With Power Outage

With Candles, Flashlights, Hospital In Assam Struggles With Power Outage
Doctors perform procedures lit by flashlights in a hospital in Assam's Karimganj.

Karimganj, Assam: Under the harsh glow of a torch and a cellphone flashlight in a room shrouded in darkness, the doctor at one of the biggest government hospitals in Assam’s Karimganj district inserts the needle of a saline drip into the arm of 25-year-old Molika Begum.

For over a week now, doctors at Srigouri Community Health Centre, the 30-bed facility which is the best the area has to offer, have carried out all medical procedures, including emergency ones, aided by everything from torches to mobile phones and even candles.

The lights went out at this hospital a week ago after heavy rains and the supply has not been restored yet, authorities say.

The lights have been gone at the hospital for around a week.
The lights have been gone at the hospital for around a week.

Dr Utpal Mahati, who is looking after Molika Begum, said he does not know why the two backup generators have been non-functional for a month. Others in the hospital say, off camera, the health department has not sent any money for fuel. Health officials in the district have not commented on the crisis so far. One officer in the district administration, who did not want to be named, told NDTV they hoped to fix the situation by Monday evening.

“Yes, it is true that for the last few days the generator is out of service. The reasons are not known to me. Two inverters are also out of service. Without power we are suffering the whole night, using light from mobile phones or candles for procedures,” says Dr Mahati.

For patients and relatives, some of whom come here from far off villages for treatment, it’s a scary proposition since this is the biggest government hospital in the area with specialised facilities.

“How can we avail basic services like this? If doctors have to provide treatment using candles then I will call it a total breakdown of the health department’s functioning,” said Debdular Purukayashtha, whose relative is getting treated at the hospital.

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