Arjun Das Makhija had a hard time finding the mohalla clinic in Paschim Vihar, even as his wife, Leelavati, led the way. The couple, in their 70s, were outside a nondescript building in A-2 block when Makhija asked his wife, “Are you sure this is the place?” She replied, “You have forgotten, this is the clinic. Trust me.”Makhija, who suffers from short-term memory loss, complained as he walked in: “I still don’t think this is the clinic.” The clinic, housed on the ground floor of Prateek Apartments, figures on Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken’s list of four mohalla clinics “blatantly violating CVC guidelines” and functioning in “dilapidated and unhygienic conditions”.
Makhija sat among schoolkids and middle-aged women, while his wife entered the doctor’s cabin. Dr Vandana attends 180 patients a day. Anna John, the sole nurse, sits at the dispensary, while Suhani, the attendant, keeps an eye on a white almirah in which medicines are stored. A burly woman entered the dispensary and caught Suhani unawares. “Aap aage se kyon nahi aaye? Please counter se medicine lijiye,” Suhani said. The woman retorted, “Mein aage se aaoun ya piche se, tumko kya hai?”
She then pointed to a red scar and asked if they have an ointment for the infection, only to be told the clinic does not have any. Anna, meanwhile, catered to patients queuing up at the counter. She started prescribing medicines, only to be told by Suhani they had run out of Biscodyl and Cephalaxin.
By 10.30 am, the time for conducting tests got over, and patients were told to collect reports the next morning. The staffer in charge of collecting samples took a break, but Dr Vandana had no time to rest — she had seen over 90 patients since morning. “There is a problem with medicines, but the doctor is good — unlike the stern doctors at private clinics,” said Varshney Shrivastav, a patient.
Soon afterwards, the shortage of anti-hypertensives and anti-diabetic medicines was communicated to a polyclinic nearby. With the rain providing respite from the flow of patients, the staff used the time to go through supplies. Dr Vandana told The Sunday Express, “There is shortage of iron, calcium, anti-fungal, anti-allergic, anti-hypertensive and anti-diabetic medicine. Many patients from Paschim Vihar who come here suffer from hypertension and diabetes.”
The clinic had come under scanner after Maken claimed it was rented out to the AAP trade wing president at an inflated amount of Rs 20,000, while it should have been set at Rs 8,000. The claims were based on a survey by the Jan Surveshak (public surveyors) who submitted their findings to the party.
During a survey of property rates here, The Sunday Express found that the rent for a nine sqft commercial establishment was as high as Rs 17,000. Many commercial establishments, including clinics, salons and paan kiosks, pay Rs 10,000 or more.
Several property dealers said the rent depends on the location, adding that the rates are as high as Rs 35,000 for some commercial establishments measuring 100 sqft. “In A-2 block, a commercial establishment will cost Rs 100 per sqft for the ground floor, and half the price for the basement. Near the club road area, the rent is between Rs 200-300 per sqft. For some properties, the rate is as high as Rs 511 per sqft,” said Suresh Makhija, a property dealer in Paschim Vihar.
The standoff between the Lieutenant Governor and the AAP government over mohalla clinics also came up at the clinic, which closed around 1 pm after seeing 120 patients. “If someone does good work, people look for mistakes. It has been 50 years since I have been visiting private clinics, and they have fleeced me. At least we get free medicines here,” said Raman Singh, a BP patient.