That the 3,500 employees of the railway workshop in Parel work under hazardous circumstances comes as no news. But for the past five months, the only medical unit at the workshop has been turning away all injured workers, as its only X-ray machine, used to diagnose fractures that several workers sustain, has been defunct. This means that injured employees have to commute all the way to Jagjivan Ram Hospital (JRH) in Mumbai Central, even for diagnosis.
According to sources, the X-ray machine went defunct last September, when a particular part in the machine stopped working. Five months passed after that, but authorities have still not managed to replace the part and start the machine. Given the nature of work done in the workshop, most workers sustain fractures. In the absence of the X-ray machine, all patients have to be ferried to the JRH.
Take the case of Jitesh Mhatre (30) who sustained injuries on his nose when a cushion spring he was working on suddenly bounced. "Such accidents are common in my line of work, but because the X-ray machine was not working I had to be taken to JRH immediately," he said.
Short on pills
Not only the malfunctioning machine, the health unit also has a short supply of medicines for diabetes and blood pressure, which are to be dispensed by the unit among the employees on a regular basis. Pravin Bhargava, branch chairman of the Western Railway Employees' Union, Parel workshop, said, "Preliminary investigations are to be conducted at the health unit, and only selected cases are referred to JRH, but with the X-ray machine not working, anyone who gets injured has to be taken there. JRH is a tertiary hospital and the load of railway employees referred to it is high, as a result of which our workers have to wait for days , even to get basic treatment. We have made various presentations to the authorities, but till date, the machine lies dysfunctional."
"If anyone gets injured in the workshop, we take them to the health unit where all basic medical attention is given to the employee. Only after he is stabilised and if at all he requires any further treatment, he is shifted to JRH," confirmed an employee from the workshop.