A cloudy vision that Kali Bai developed eight months ago made it increasingly difficult for her to carry out work as a domestic help, washing vessels and sweeping floors. As she slowed down due to the vision impairment, three households terminated her services. And she lost out on ₹3,000 of the meagre ₹ 5,000 she made every month. It was the promise of cataract treatment free of cost under the Union Health Ministry’s National Programme for Control of Blindness that brought her and 14 other elderly persons from Dhar and Indore districts to the privately-run Indore Eye Hospital on August 8. But as a result of post-operative infection, she has lost all vision in the operated eye.“We believed the doctor blindly. Vo toh bhagwan ka roop hote hai (They are an incarnation of God),” says Ms. Kali Bai now, squinting at the light, as a tear rolls down her right eye. Under the Centre’s Blindness Control Programme, the Indore Eye Hospital had conducted 400 cataract surgeries between April and August, says District Chief Medical and Health Officer (CMHO) Pravin Jadia. “For each surgery, the government pays the hospital ₹2,000,” he said. As doctors at the hospital noticed the oozing pus and infection in the operated patients on August 9, District Blindness Control Society coordinator T.S. Vohra was informed. “We found pseudomonas of gram negative bacteria multiplying in the eyes,” he said. To arrest the multiplying bacteria, most patients were taken back to the operation theatre — some upto six times — and administered antibiotics. Three of them were operated upon again, confirmed a doctor now tending to the patients. All to no avail. Repeat of 2010In 2010, the same hospital was in the dock as 18 patients lost their vision after similar cataract surgery. While the victims say they have not received any compensation, the hospital was allowed to resume surgeries after a brief six month suspension. The hospital was sealed on Saturday and the patients referred to the Choitram Hospital, also privately run, for further treatment. On Saturday, along with 11 other affected patients, Ms Kali Bai waited impatiently with her daughter, Chanda, at the Choithram Hospital to be examined by a specialist being flown in from the Sankara Nethralaya in Chennai by the Madhya Pradesh government. “We don’t know whether to blame the doctor or the medicines,” said Ms Chanda Bai, who’s been with her mother since August 7. Ms Kali Bai took up domestic work to raise a son and daughter, after her husband passed away. She frets about her teenage son. “How will I earn and raise my child now?” she asks. “Vo meri sunta bhi nahi hai (He doesn’t even listen to me).”Double tragedyKailash Das, 63, has been a tailor since he was 12 in Sirpur in Indore, earning ₹150-200 a day. But not any more. In a double tragedy, Mr. Das and his wife Kala Bai, 60, who both underwent surgery, have lost vision in one eye. The couple, abandoned by their eldest son, are accompanied by their second daughter at the hospital.“How will I and my wife sew clothes now? It requires a sharp eye,” he says. Subash Chouhan, of Sanjay Colony in Dhar two-hours away, hasn’t felt the need to use the ₹20,000, he borrowed from a moneylender at an interest of 2%, for food, transport and accommodation, while being with his mother, whose left eye is affected. Along with others, his family has received a compensation of ₹50,000 from the government on Saturday. “But, what about my daily wage? It’ll become difficult to manage in no time,” says Mr. Chouhan, who works as a mason for ₹350 a day to support a family of six.But, Bhagwati Lal feels the compensation means nothing if his wife, Sushila Bai, 55, isn’t able to see clearly again from her right eye. “My employer rejected my request for a paid leave. Only God knows how I will recover the money I could have earned since August 7,” says Mr. Lal, sporting a soiled security guard uniform and a combat cap. As an ATM van guard in Dhar, Mr. Lal, from Nogaun in the district, earns ₹8,000 a month. Earlier victimsFollowing reports in local papers, families of two persons who had lost their vision after an operation at the same hospital earlier this month, have having lost vision in one eye after being operated upon under the same programme at the same private hospital for cataract this month, also turned up at the hospital, hoping for corrective procedure. Hari Yadav, who runs a tea shop, sought a surgery for his wife Radha Yadav from the hospital on August 5, as she had been successfully operated in 2014. “Before the surgery for the second eye, she had put a thumb impression on a document giving consent for the surgery, but we were not informed about the risks involved,” he says.Her son-in-law, Manish Yadav, says, “If we had known the hospital was embroiled in a similar controversy in 2010, we would have never approached it for treatment.”Meanwhile, Mr. Jadia, the CMHO, said 38 samples from the operation theatre were sent to the M.Y. Hospital, a government-run institution, to ascertain the cause of the spread of the infection. Meeting the victims, State Health Minister Tulsi Ram Silawat said in future no health camps would be organised in the State without permission from the government. And Indore Commissioner Akash Tripathi directed the CMHO to furnish details relating to the case in 2010 and all those who’d undergone cataract surgeries in the hospital since August 1 this year.