A first-of-its kind Drishti Rath – an eye clinic on wheels – will roll out of Gurgaon on Saturday, reaching poor patients in villages in Haryana over the next few months.The ambulance-style vehicle will be equipped with a doctor, eye testing equipment, and a stock of spectacles and lenses.
From Gurgaon, it will head straight for the Hari Mandir Ashram, a Sanskrit Mahavidyalaya in Pataudi district.
“For close to one week, we will wait for patients at the ashram before taking the ambulance into the interiors of villages. We plan to cover the entire south Haryana in next few months so that not even a single person turns blind because of ignorance or lack of medical facilities in his village,” said Dr T N Ahooja, founder of Nirmaya Charitable Trust.
Two other NGOs, Concern India Foundation and Tej Kohli Foundation, are also involved with the Dhrishti Rath project which will traverse Rewari, Pataudi, Gurgaon and Mahendragarh districts.
It will target the three primary ailments which lead to the permanent blindness - cataract, corneal blindness and refractive error.
Nirmaya Charitable Trust has been in operation since the past seven years, running eight makeshift eye clinics in rural Haryana.
“These clinics provide primary eye care and in case of cataract surgeries, we call patients to our Gurgaon clinic where people with BPL (below poverty line) cards are operated upon free of charge,” said Dr Hitendra Ahooja, medical director of Ahooja Eye Institute, the Trust's parent organisation.
The institute has conducted about 5,000 free cataract operations over these years.
Drishti Rath is made out a Force Traveller, and will have a doctor and two assistants who will dispense lenses and spectacles.
The vehicle costs around Rs 15 lakh and the recurring expenses are estimated to be
Rs 80,000 per month.