While the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is spending crores of rupees on setting up healthcare facilities to fight Covid-19, its three-storey building reserved for health facilities in Goregaon is being used as a ‘guesthouse’.
About one and half year back, the BMC under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) had handed over a three-storey building Gokuldham Maternity Home and Dispensary in Goregaon east to Lifeline Medicare Hospital (LLMH) to set up a 65-bed paediatric hospital. The group, which runs some more hospitals in Goregaon and Kandivali, was supposed to start the facility last year and under the plan was to pay the BMC Rs 3 lakh a month.
Although there is a board outside the building calling it ‘maternity home and dispensary’, it was being used till recently by the staff of LLMH which has another hospital a few metres away from the building. Local BJP corporator Priti Satam had visited the maternity home last week and made a video highlighting the misuse of the health facility at the time of the pandemic.
“We are spending crores on setting up Covid care centres. This is shameful and serious negligence by civic staff. We have a three-storey ready building. It could have been used for Covid care or else for non-Covid treatment. What was shocking when I visited was, I found clothes hanging in the passages. Rooms were occupied by hospital staff. A building reserved for health facilities is being used as a guesthouse,” said Satam.
Satam wrote a letter on July 9 to Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal demanding that the building should immediately be taken back by the BMC and used for Covid or non-Covid facilities as cases of coronavirus are rising in P-south ward (Goregaon).
In Mumbai as on July 8, 88,795 cases of Covid-19 were reported with 5,129 deaths. According to the civic body’s data, there are 23,915 active cases. In P-south ward there are 2,775 cases.
This is not the first time that the Gokuldham maternity home has courted controversy. In 2013, after a redevelopment project, the builder had handed over the ready building to the BMC. However, for four years the building was lying unused. In 2017 too Satam had complained but no action was taken by the BMC.
After her latest complaint the civic body has issued fresh showcause notice to IIMH for misusing the premises. “We have issued showcause notice after receiving a complaint of the building being used as a guesthouse. Such activity is not allowed and our staff visited the site and vacated the building immediately. We instructed them to start healthcare facility soon and if they fail then we may consider cancellation of agreement,” said Dr Mangala Gomare, Executive Health Officer of the BMC.
Dr Aniruddh Ambekar of LLMH said that the delay happened because of severe damage to the building. “We got possession of the building in January 2019. Building was severely damaged as all infrastructure like electricity and water were either stolen or broken. In September 2019 we started out patient department. But repair work on upper floors is going on. OPD is still functioning in the morning. In March, the BMC’s health department team visited and then it was decided that the building will take more time to get ready as it was severely damaged,” he said.
“The building was not turned into a guesthouse for staff. Only one floor was given for nursing staff as they were refused accommodation by either their housing societies or they live outside Mumbai and travelling is not possible. However, all of them have now left the building after the complaint was filed,” he added.
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