Two confirmed cholera cases at BMC girls’ hostel; unhygienic conditions blamed, warden suspended

Of the 47 admitted, 21 are still in the hospital and samples of 10 students are awaited. Water samples from the hostel tested negative.

ByChetana Belagere

Published Apr 06, 2024 | 8:24 PMUpdatedApr 06, 2024 | 8:41 PM


Two postgraduate (PG) resident doctors from the Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute (BMCRI) girls’ hostel in Karnataka have tested positive for cholera. Another student’s culture report is awaited, while the preliminary test has tested positive for cholera.

Of the 47 admitted, 21 of them are still in the hospital and samples of 10 students are awaited. However, water samples from the hostel, which was suspected to be contaminated, tested negative.

Dr Padma MR of the State Surveillance Unit, under the Department of Health and Family Welfare, confirmed that the cultures of two students have come back positive for cholera.

It can be noted that on Friday, 5 April, Dr Ramesh Krishna K, Dean and Director of the Bangalore Medical College & Research Institute, had said that all the 47 students were admitted due to gastroenteritis and that there was no cholera outbreak in the hostel.

Read South First’s report on the matter

Hostel’s pathetic state

The PG resident doctors are attributing their state of health to the “worst” and “unhygienic” conditions of the hostel premises. They claim that as many as 80 students have taken ill in the past two days.

“From clogged sinks, dirty bathrooms, a horribly-maintained kitchen to unsafe drinking water — these are the reasons for our health condition. Every authority is aware of our plight but no one wants to rectify this,” one of the PG doctors tells South First, on condition of anonymity.

The girls, who are rather worried about speaking to the media, say that the condition of the hostel has been in bad shape from many years now.

“We are forced to live in such a pathetic, unhygienic state. We are doctors treating patients day in and day out, and we advice them to live in hygienic conditions. Ironically, this is our own state,” grieves another PG doctor.

Another student complains about the two drinking water purifiers in the hostel. She says, “Water from one of those purifiers literally stinks. We can’t use that water for anything. We have informed the hostel authorities about this ages ago but nothing has been done about it.”

Authorities turned a blind eye

The PG doctors tell South First that this is not the first time that students have fallen sick. Due to the unhygienic conditions of the hostel, there are at least 10-20 students with urinary tract infections at any given point in time.

“UTIs among our hostel residents are so common; we are sick of taking antibiotics. Wheezing issues, upset stomachs, gastritis are also extremely common as the food that is cooked here is extremely unhygienic,” another student tells South First.

The students claim that officials turn a blind eye whenever complaints are raised. They even allege that the warden of the hostel has threatened to fail them if they report these issues to the media.

Another student says that there are around 150 students per floor and only four to five working toilets are available. “Most of the toilets don’t have a working flush or a health faucet. A few toilets don’t have locks on the doors. There are 10 bathrooms per floor but we have hardly one or two working geysers,” she adds.

“We are PGs and are paying extra for the food and caution deposits. While UGs pay around ₹1,800 per month for the same food, we are paying ₹2,500 per month. If we question the hostel authorities, they tells us to leave the premises and find accommodation elsewhere,” she says.

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Warden suspended

Following the hospitalisation of the 47 girls, the authorities finally visited the hostel facilities. Their investigation uncovered that the complaints by the resident doctors were true.

Dr Nagalakshmi, Chairman of the Women’s Commission, as well as officials from the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and the Directorate of Medical Education visited the hostel premises and the hospital on Saturday, 6 April.

The visits underscored the absence of prior complaints from the hostel’s residents about the conditions, as well as highlighted the pressing need for better hostel facilities due to an increase in student numbers.

They also announced the planned construction of an additional hostel with an approximate budget of ₹65 crore. Furthermore, a sum of ₹2 crore has been sanctioned for the renovation and upgradation of existing hostels, with instructions given for the immediate submission of a tender file.

During a subsequent meeting at BMCRI, a series of instructions were issued by the Principal Secretary to ensure the ongoing safety and hygiene of the hostel premises. These include the inspection of kitchen facilities by Food Inspector Dr Suresh and the suspension of the current warden Dr Akhilandeshwari. Also, the authorities will establish a Hostel Management Committee and replace the hostel’s cook with a professional one.

Additionally, the security and housekeeping protocols have been tightened, including the removal of unauthorised vehicles and the implementation of biometric attendance systems.

(Edited by Kamna Revanoor)