The hospital lies on 28 bighas of prime land that includes water bodies and an orchard, and which is now being eyed by unscrupulous developers
statesman news service
KOLKATA, 25 JUNE: Local residents of Mankundu near Chandernagore in Hooghly have urged the chief minister to take over Mankundu Mental Hospital.
The hospital was set up 80 years ago in 1933, and had an outdoor division on Vivekananda Road. Eminent psychiatrists have been its patrons. It was Girindra Shekhar Basu, one amongst them, under whose initiative the indoor section was set up at Mankundu.
Situated close to Mankundu railway station, the mental hospital sits on 28 bighas of prime land that includes water bodies and an orchard. Local residents have alleged that since land prices are increasing in the area, certain builders ~ in connivance with some political leaders ~ are now trying to acquire the land by any means to set up a housing complex.
In their letter to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the residents have also said that the condition of the patients is turning from bad to worse day by day. The building that houses the mental hospital needs immediate repair, which has not been undertaken for decades. The condition of the indoor section is deplorable with the plaster on the walls peeling off. The toilets stink and since there is no regular flow of funds, the rooms are not being cleaned and washed daily. This financial crunch also means that the patients are not being given a square meal every day.
The locals add that patients with mental health problems from Hooghly, Howrah, Birbhum and other places nearby are brought to the hospital. Since there is a stigma attached to mental patients, even their relatives do not want to take them back home.
Mr Malay Ghosh, the president of Mankundu Mental Hospital Employees’ Congress, has written to the Governor and apprised him of the situation.
When contacted, psychologists said while the state government does not have the funds to set up new mental hospitals, it should take over the existing ones and run them properly. But no initiative has yet been taken by the state government for the mentally ill patients. Even the state mental health authority does not meet frequently enough and take decisions that would improve the condition of the hospitals. The psychologists added that the number of patients with mental health problems is increasing at an alarming rate, and if steps are not taken immediately, the situation will go out of control.