Citizens won't get better looking at statues, they need medical help: Bombay HC

Mumbai: In an embarrassment for the newly formed Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, the Bombay High Court on Thursday said the political dispensation at the helm is busy constructing statues but is doing little for public health. The HC asked the government to understand that citizens would not get rid of their ailments by looking at the series of statues proposed by the state.

The observations were made while the court was hearing a plea highlighting the ongoing tension at the Bai Jerbai Wadia Hospital for Children and the Nowrosjee Wadia Maternity Hospital, Parel, for the lack of funds. This charitable hospital has been denying admission to new patients for the past one week, citing lack of funds.

A bench of Justices Satyaranjan Dharmadhikari and Riyaz Chagla accordingly sought to know from the government when it would be providing the requisite funds.

At this, government counsel Girish Godbo le said the state had decided to pay Rs 24 crore to the hospital but the amount would be disbursed only after three weeks.

Irked by the submission, Justice Dharmadhikari said, “This is disgusting. The government has funds for building statues and not for these poor citizens.”

“The government wants to build the statue of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar taller than that of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and has ample amount for the same. But is it has no funds for the poor citizens whom Dr Ambedkar represented throughout his life,” Justice Dharmadhikari remarked.

The bench further sought to know from the government if it proposes to provide proper medical care to the public. “Would these citizens get rid of their ailments by receiving medical aid or by just looking at the statues? It appears public health has never been a priority,” Justice Dharmadhikari said.

“We thought there are new faces at the political helm and that such matters would not come up to this court. However, there has been no change in the situation,” Justice Dharmadhikari remarked, adding, “The chief minister has been busy inaugurating new bridges.”

The court further expressed displeasure stating that in the commercial capital of the nation, the poor citizens are being denied admissions by a charitable hospital.

“We cannot tolerate such a scenario wherein women and children are being denied admissions. There have been high infant mortality rates in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan and even in Madhya Pradesh. Do you (government) want a similar situation in Maharashtra too?” Justice Dharmadhikari asked.

During the course of the hearing, the bench reminded the state of its 'obligation' to provide better health care for the public. “You are obliging nobody by saying that you have decided to provide funds for this hospital. That is your duty,” the court remarked.

The bench accordingly, posted the matter for further hearing on Friday with a directive to the government to specify when it would be providing the funds. Meanwhile, the city civic body agreed to pay Rs 14 crore as a grant to the hospital by Thursday evening.

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