PALANQUIN AS AMBULANCE « Jana Aastha News Online
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११ आश्विन २०७९, मंगलवार
|  Tue Sep 27 2022
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११ आश्विन २०७९, मंगलवार
|  Tue Sep 27 2022

PALANQUIN AS AMBULANCE

प्रकाशित मिति :  ७ फाल्गुन २०७८, शनिबार १३:३०


By-Reeta Rani Nayak

In the days of fairy tale marriages, the colonial era palanquin is an antique. During British time the decorated box type carriage used to ferry Zamindars and their families. A bit later brides and grooms used this box type or open wagon since they are not supposed to walk long distances. But now the almost forgotten palanquin is saving lives of hundreds of local people in remote Buxa Tiger Reserve in the form of an ambulance even with oxygen cylinders, saline drips, and minimal lifesaving medicines fitted into it. It is carried by four people by means of two long poles both on front and back.

Brainchild of an young IAS Collector of the Alipurduar district in West Bengal , the palki ambulance service was started few months ago and primarily serves around 5,000 people — who belong to indigenous tribes — living in 11 villages of the Kalchini block at a height of 4,600 ft above sea level in a core area of the Buxa Tiger Reserve. There is no mobile phone network as it falls under the “shadow zone.” There is no hospital either since it is a core area of a tiger reserve, the environment ministry does not permit
building of any concrete structure including roads or mobile towers there. Moreover, there is no motorable road and even for vaccination the medical team had to trek kilometers in the jungle.

In a different role the palanquin or palki is now doubling up as an ambulance for men and women in Alipurduar, a forested district in north Bengal. From being a decorated, box-like bridal carriage, it has now been repurposed and equipped with an oxygen cylinder and saline solution, courtesy an initiative by the innovative district magistrate, Surendra Kumar Meena.

Earlier, pregnant women and sick people including COVID 19 patients were being carried from high altitude villages in sacks, said the 2011 batch West Bengal cadre IAS officer. For the indigenous tribes living in the forests, it takes over two hours to trek through precarious terrain from the hilltop to the nearest concrete road and primary health centre (PHC). For a long time, villagers used to carry pregnant women and sick people on makeshift stretchers made from clothes and bamboo sticks.

At present, ten palkis are in service and the idea is to ultimately station one palki in each village located near the India-Bhutan border. A trained medical nurse (midwives living in the villages who underwent training) accompanies the palki. Volunteers from the villages carry it till ‘zero point’ (or ground level), which is a concrete road, from where an ambulance then takes the patient to the PHC, or, in serious cases, to Alipurduar District Hospital, around 35 kilometers away. The Palanquin service has been a lifeline for villagers. Since the service was started, pregnant women have used the service, and had successful deliveries and corona patients have been taken care of.

Such was the success of palanquin the district administration, in collaboration with an NGO, has started a palanquin ambulance service under which patients will be brought from a height of 2,600 feet height to the plains via palanquin. Tushar Chakraborty, NGO Family Planning India (Kalchini Branch), said, this will be a great help for the villagers who struggle for medical help. Many have started to avail the facility and we are happy.”

Source: Himalayan News Chronicle


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