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Money for statue, but not for poor: Bombay HC slams Maharashtra | India News


MUMBAI: Referring to the plight of patients at the twin Wadia hospitals in Mumbai’s Parel due to freeze of grants, the Bombay high court on Thursday slammed the state government, saying it has money to build Dr B R Ambedkar’s statue but not to spend on the poor and middle class who cannot afford treatment at “star” hospitals.

The comment came a day after the state cabinet raised the cost of the Ambedkar memorial project at Dadar’s Indu Mills by Rs300 crore, taking it to Rs1,070 crore to account for a 100ft increase in the icon’s statue to 350ft. “For that (statue), money is there, but the same people Ambedkar represented all his life can die. They need medical aid or statues?” asked the bench of Justices Satyaranjan Dharmadhikari and Riyaz Chagla while hearing a public interest litigation to release grants by the state and BMC to the Nowrosjee Wadia Maternity Hospital and Bai Jerbai Wadia Hospital for Children. While the state and BMC share 50% of the grant to the maternity hospital, BMC funds 85% of the grant to the children’s hospital.

Advocate Girish Godbole, for the state government, said the finance department has sanctioned Rs24 crore from the contingent fund and it will be given in lumpsum within three weeks. “This is an eyewash. This, to materialize, will take months. Tomorrow this amount should be released,” said Justice Dharmadhikari, adding that otherwise, right from the state chief secretary to the deputy secretary, “we will parade them here (in court). You want that?”

Godbole also said the government will scrutinise if the maternity hospital’s other claims are genuine and added that in “the administration some are drawing salary from the two establishments.” He also said “amounts claimed are inflated.” Senior advocate Rafiq Dada, for the hospitals, said all accounts are audited. “They (officials) used to come to meet you (Wadia) for a cup of tea,” said Justice Dharmadhikari.

Dada said salaries are not paid. He said there are 300 critical beds and a total of 800 beds in both hospitals. “Critical patients are not being admitted. It is very distressing,” Dada said.

The judges even didn’t spare CM Uddhav Thackeray, who on Wednesday launched the first girder of the Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link. “You have time to inaugurate schemes…time to go and inaugurate a bridge which is yet to be built. We are thankful to the CM for finding time to meet them (all stakeholders),” Justice Dharmadhikari said.

The BMC’s advocate Suresh Pakale said its balance payment is over Rs14 crore towards the children’s hospital, and it will release it. On Friday, the state government will inform when the amount will be disbursed. “Common man you can take for a ride. Not us,” said Justice Dharmadhikari.

Times of India