CHITWAN, Aug 19: The saying ´It never rains but pours´ truly fits the case of Bitani Tharu of Mainapokhar VDC-6, who has been lying in bed at the orthopedic ward of Chitwan Medical College Teaching Hospital for around one and half years now.
On April 12 last year, the 25-year-old landless woman got on a bus to Kathmandu to participate in a programme organized by the National Land Rights Forum to pressure the government for ensuring the rights of landless people in the new constitution.
Next day, the bus carrying 30 landless people along with Bitani met with an accident at Nawalpur, leaving her with a grave wound and rendering her immobile in both legs. Her condition has further exacerbated her family´s worsening financial situation.
Although the hospital has already conducted 17 operations to bring her into an ambulatory state, she needs one more operation in her right leg, and for this her family is short of money.
According to land rights activist Jagat Deuja, all the medical expenses for those injured in the accident, along with Bitani, were borne in the beginning by the bus operation committee.
However, Bitani´s situation became more difficult after the committee stopped coming into contact. According to Deuja, over Rs 750,000 remains to be paid by the committee as medical and food expenses.
“After the outstanding expenses began to accumulate, we contacted the bus committee, but it was found unable to pay”, said Deuja. Police have contacted the bus proprietor to try to sort out the problem.
“We recently contacted the people concerned and will resolve the issue before long”, said Inspector Birendra Thapa at Area Police Station, Gaidakot. “The doctor says to prepare for the operation but lack of funds has delayed things and the wound has taken more time to heal,” said Bitani´s husband, Dilliram Tharu. After Dilliram left to put together the funds for the next operation, Bitani has been all alone in the hospital. Doctors have told the Tharu family to provision for around Rs 50,000 for the operation.
Despite the payment outstanding for Tharu´s treatment, the hospital has not stopped treatment. “There´s lots of money to be paid, but we have continued the treatment”, said Dr Arjun Shrestha of the orthopedic department.
According to Dr Shrestha, Bitani´s legs are both almost dysfunctional below the knee and were about to be amputated.
However, the hospital later dropped the idea of amputation and is waiting for the wound to heal. According to Dr Shrestha, a steel rod needs to be implanted in Bitani´s left leg.
The Tharu family is having a hard time collecting the money for the rod. The tharu couple, who have three small children, was doing menial jobs as the five kattha of unregistered land that they work is too little for them to live on.
“We both used to work as labours to make ends meet. As I cannot walk now and my husband has to take care of me, where shall we turn to for the money for my treatment?,” Bitani said. She hopes to return to work and help earn a living for her family if she becomes fully healed.