September 12, 2019
Baby feeding rooms in government bus stands in Coimbatore are in a neglected state and are either locked up or are being used as retiring rooms by others.
In 2015, late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa set up infant breastfeeding rooms at all government bus stands in the State. Nearly four years on, these rooms in Coimbatore’s bus stands are in an unused, derelict state.
Social activist Manoj Arun told The Covai Post, “World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated from August 1 – 7. I decided to see how the baby feeding rooms were being maintained at the five major bus stands here. It was shocking to see most of them locked. The lone one open was at the Central Bus Stand. But it was being used as a retiring room for Corporation workers.”
Manoj immediately filed a complaint against this misuse on August 7 at the Coimbatore Corporation Grievance Day meeting. “The officer standing next to the Corporation Commissioner claimed that the room was under renovation. I asked him why repairs had come up within three years. I got vague answers. Then, one of the officials, Mahesh Kanagaraj was asked to look into the matter,” he said.
However the feeding room at Salem Central Bus Stand at Swarnapuri is functioning well with an attendant nurse, a curtained partition for mothers, tables and chairs, fans and lighting with attached bathroom.
Manoj added that these rooms in Coimbatore bus stands were built at a cost of three-four lakh rupees each for travelling mothers and maintenance was the responsibility of Coimbatore Corporation with government funds. “It is disheartening to see misuse and fund wastage. Coimbatore Corporation should take action against this and follow the good example set by other places like Salem,” he added.
Dr. Ruchin Katheeja, a gynaecologist at ELCE Clinic, Coimbatore, echoed Manoj’s sentiments. “At least for the first six months breast milk is very important for babies as it provides complete nutrition and immunity against diseases, besides helping mothers to overcome their post-natal body changes and regain their energy. So travelling mothers should not stop breastfeeding or supplement it,” she said.
Dr Johana Gurubatham, a gynaecologist at Salem said, “I don’t think breastfeeding rooms are necessary at public places, because the sari is a convenient cover for mothers to feed under the folds of its pallu. It might not be that easy with other clothes. There is nothing wrong in having a breastfeeding room but I often advise young mothers who have to feed at least six times a day, to avoid travelling in the initial months. It will be healthier for her and baby.”