The chief minister has directed the BMC to pay Rs 22 crore, and the state government to pay Rs 24 crore, as the operational costs of both the children and maternity hospital.
The state government has appointed a committee, chaired by the chief secretary and the civic commissioner, to clear the impasse between Wadia hospital, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and the state government over pending dues.
On Tuesday, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray held a meeting with Nusli Wadia, chairman of the Wadia group which runs Nawrosjee Wadia Maternity Home and Bai Jerbai Wadia Hospital for Children. Senior civic officials including BMC chief Praveen Pardeshi, principal secretary to the chief minister Bhushan Gagrani, Mayor Kishori Pednekar, Urban Development Minister Eknath Shinde, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, and Health Minister Rajesh Tope were present at the meeting.
The chief minister has directed the BMC to pay Rs 22 crore, and the state government to pay Rs 24 crore, as the operational costs of both the children and maternity hospital. Sources said the Wadia hospital, however, demanded Rs 105.8 crore for Bai Jerbai hospital and Rs 31.4 crore for Nawrosjee hospital.
“The chief minister directed that the municipality and state government provide the necessary funds to the Wadia Hospital, and a decision will be taken on the other issues within the next three days,” a state official said.
Earlier in the day, Sharmila Thackeray, wife of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray, paid a surprise visit to Ajit Pawar to request the release of funds for the hospital.
“The government will do everything possible to ensure the hospital operates properly. The government will not allow the hospital to shut down. I have taken the decision to release Rs 46 crore for the hospital,” Pawar later told mediapersons.
Sharmila Thackeray said her interest in the matter rose out of appeals to her by patients and hospital staff. “Fifteen days ago, a woman whose child was being treated in Wadia Hospital came to me seeking help. Some Wadia Hospital officials also got in touch with their problems. I was informed the hospital was in trouble due to financial problems,” she said.
She said she went Pawar “because he holds the Finance portfolio. The decision to release the funds rests with him”.
Her decision to meet Pawar appears to have rankled the Shiv Sena, which controls the BMC. A senior minister, who did not wish to be named, said she was “trying to undermine” the Sena leadership.
Last week, the Wadia hospital had stopped patient admissions and postponed surgeries citing paucity of funds. The hospital administration blamed the BMC in delaying payments. However, the BMC has claimed that it had cleared dues till September last year, and only owes Rs 15-20 crore. “Wadia hospital has recruited more staff than needed without BMC permission. They cannot make decisions in isolation without consulting us. The amount they are demanding is huge,” a civic official said.
In 1926, the Wadia group had entered into a contract with the BMC and the state government to run the hospital. The terms of the contract, updated in 2010, mandated BMC and state government officials to be a part of Wadia hospital’s board. While Wadia hospital claimed it invited the BMC and state government to appoint officials, the civic body’s Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakane said two names suggested in 2012 were not included on the board. The BMC also claimed that as per the contract, Wadia hospital is supposed to buy a scheduled list of medicines used by BMC. “But they have not been complying,” Amey Ghole, chairman of the civic health committee, said.
The state-appointed committee under the chief secretary and municipal commissioner will now assess the amount due to the hospital. On Tuesday, the civic standing committee cleared a payment of Rs 22 crore to Wadia hospital within two days. The hospital has been asked to start admitting patients again.
Civic officials said the tussle between Wadia hospital and BMC worsened a year ago.
“After today’s discussion with the CM and all present during the meeting, We are hopeful that the pending contributions from the government of Maharashtra and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation will be received soon,” a Wadia hospital spokesperson said.