September 6, 2021 2:21:50 pm
With their registrations having expired, as many as 80 private hospitals in Latur – many of them Covid centres – have been “forced” to operate without permits owing to a wrangle with the civic body over regularisation of illegal constructions.
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) unit in the district has approached Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, urging his intervention in the matter.
Two months ago, the Latur Municipal Corporation had sent notices to the hospitals asking them to regularise the illegal constructions or extensions in their buildings by August 31. The hospitals were told that their registrations or licences will be renewed only after they get the unlawful constructions regularised.
Doctors running the hospitals, however, said the municipal corporation has asked them to pay a hefty fine for the regularisation. “We are ready to get our hospital buildings regularised. However, the civic body wants us to pay hefty penalties which are beyond our capacity,” Dr Surekha Kale, president of IMA’s Latur unit told The Indian Express on Monday.
The IMA unit said the civic body’s deadline of August 31 has also lapsed. “I don’t think any hospital has been able to regularise its illegal constructions because of the hefty penalty. The hospitals are now operating without getting their registrations renewed, which has to be done every three years,” Dr Kale explained.
Doctors said the lack of licence could pose medico-legal troubles for the hospitals. “If a medico-legal case occurs in a hospital that is operating without licence, it will be in bigger trouble as it is considered an illegal establishment,” a senior doctor with IMA said.
Latur Municipal Commissioner Aman Mittal, meanwhile, said it is for the state government to grant an extension. “We will wait for the government directive. Any hospital operating without permission will not get insurance or reimbursement facilities… besides medico-legal troubles,” he said.
On the hefty regularisation fee, he said the high court and the state government have “clearly laid down the guidelines.”
Latur IMA’s former president Dr Vishwas Kulkarni too felt the compounding fee for regularisation was acting as a dampener. “The hospitals have been asked to pay anything from Rs 30 lakh to Rs 1 crore which they can’t afford. They have levied the penalty on the entire building and not on the illegal extension,” he said.
In her letter to the Chief Minister, Dr Kale has sought that the period of registration be extended and that the issue of regularisation be considered separately. “The government first extended it from March to June and then to August 31. Since the third wave of Covid is expected, we have urged the CM for another extension,” she said.
“District Guardian Minister Amit Deshmukh, whom we met, has asked us to get the buildings regularised. He has promised to discuss the issue with the Chief Minister,” she added.
Speaking in support of the hospitals, corporator Ashok Govindpurkar opposed the heavy fines. “The civic body has charged penalty for the entire hospital building instead of levying it on the illegal portions. This is in violation of the state government’s Unified Development Control Rules. I have met the Principal Secretary of the Urban Development Department and brought it to his notice. The Guardian Minister has also taken up the issue with the department,” he said.
The IMA said there are 180 hospitals in Latur and many of them are fully or partially dedicated Covid centres.
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