Six-year-old Raj Ramesh Zoom, a resident of Vanichapada at Aarey Milk Colony, may not have died last evening only due to a snake bite. While some relatives of the boy blame the dearth of proper medical facilities in the area, some allege negligence by doctors at Balasaheb Thackeray Trauma Centre in Jogeshwari East. Significantly, Raj succumbed to the poison while being shifted to Cooper Hospital for further treatment. As the Aarey bridge is under construction, his family had to take a longer route to reach the hospital, which delayed his treatment.
Relatives mourn in Aarey Milk Colony as last rites Raj Ramesh Zoom (inset) were performed on Wednesday night. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
The snake attack
Speaking to mid-day, Sandeep Bhusare, a relative of Raj, said, "Last afternoon, Raj was playing with his friends outside the house when he wandered a little further. He might have stepped on a snake and the reptile attacked him. He was immediately taken to a hospital in Jogeshwari East. After two hours, the doctors asked us to shift him to Cooper hospital, but he died on the way to Cooper."
Over 200 friends and relatives of the family gathered at Raj’s residence last night for his last rites. Local Shiv Sena leader Sandeep Gadhave, who met the family, said, "We have written countless letters to the Aarey CEO about the various issues plaguing this belt, but the authorities are not bothered."
Shailesh Subhash Patre, a local schoolteacher, alleged that negligence by doctors at the Jogeshwari hospital killed Raj. "The doctors at Jogeshwari opened some knot in his leg, which we believe led to the spreading of poison in his body. Soon after, he started vomiting and he almost turned blue. But, instead of handling the situation, the hospital asked us to shift Raj to Cooper."
Patre further alleged that Aarey hospital – as per information revealed by an RTI filed by him – operates from 9 am to 4 pm although it’s supposed to be a 24-hour facility.
Aarey Milk colony, spread across 12 sq km has 28 adivasi padas (tribal colonies) with over 8,000 voters, who have been living in the area for over 100 years. Tribal leader Ankush Bhoir said, "We are surrounded by forests with wild animals, but the nearest hospital is at Jogeshwari. Precious lives are lost because we do not have access to adequate medical facilities."
Echoing similar views, Vanichapada resident Chandu Jadhav questioned, "How many more lives must end before the government decides to offer us the basic necessities?"
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