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Times of India
15 August 2010
By Tanaji Khot

Top city hospitals dishonour MoU with PMC. Take extra FSI, land in lieu of free care to the poor, but conveniently forget to uphold their end of the deal. Finally, the health department wakes up, cracks whip
Notice announcing free/concessional treatment for economically weaker sections at Sahyadri Hospital Notice announcing free/concessional treatment for economically weaker sections at Sahyadri Hospital
For years, 11 hospitals in the city, including several top ones, have enjoyed benefits from the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) in the form of extra FSI and government land to expand. This was provided to them as they had promised to create medical facilities for patients from the economically weaker section (EWS).

And this promise had legal weight, as it was in the form of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed with the PMC. However, all these hospitals have violated the MoUs by not making an effort to ensure the poor got free medical care.

Suddenly, after letting these MoUs with the 11 hospitals gather dust, PMC’s health department has woken up. Their first step? Boards have been put up at three hospitals, announcing medical care for EWS. As per the MoUs entered into with PMC by these top city hospitals, including Inlaks Budhrani, Ruby Hall, Sahyadri and KEM, they are supposed to provide treatment to poor people free of charge.

In fact, the hospitals should have reserved some beds for such patients without being asked. Or, they should have put up boards stating the MoUs on their own. After PMC standing committee chairman, Arvind Shinde, objected to the inadequacy of merely putting up "If we find the existing agreements to be faulty in any way, we’ll make fresh agreements," Shinde said.

The health department got into the act following objections by elected representatives. Now, it has taken the initiative to re–start the scheme. The health department, through the boards at three hospitals, has advised patients to approach officials for concessionl or free treatment, if they qualify for it.

PMC health chief R R Pardeshi said, "The PMC had entered into MoUs with these hospitals long back. These hospitals got extra FSI and land from PMC and in return they had to reserve beds for the economically weaker sections (EWS). Now, we have put up boards at Ruby Hall, Sahyadri (Deccan) and Inlaks Budhrani (EYE) in Koregaon Park. Following this, 15 EWS patients availed of the facilities at the three hospitals. PMC has the list of 11 hospitals who got extra FSI of 0.5, besides the 1.5 FSI they already have. However, the other end of the deal was not implemented."

Shinde said, "The standing committee will now scrutinise all the MoUs. The committee found that the administration has not followed the procedures while preparing the agreements. The standing commitee and the municipal commissioner has the right to execute such agreements. In some cases, there was no ratification by the commissioner, and the agreement was in the hsopital’s favour.

Therefore, these agreements are void. We’ll now review the agreements. If hospitals don’t rework the agreements, the PMC can take legal action." He added, "There are status quo orders from the HC in the case of Poona Hospital. Hospitals can’t make any changes. But it has made a parking lot and is collecting fees without the permission, which is illegal. The PMC has asked them not to violate the order."

MNS corporator Kishor Shinde, who raised the issue, said, "Putting up a board is not enough to ensure free treatment for EWS patients. Many hospitals are enjoying various facilities from the PMC. So, they must provide free treatment. The health department should monitor them as these hospitals may find loopholes out of the MoUs." When this reporter spoke to hospital officials, they were not interested in explaining what had gone wrong.

Unhealthy Bind
Hospitals that have agreements with PMC:
Inlaks Budhrani Eye Hospital (Scheme implemented), Sahyadri Hospital, Deccan (Scheme implemented) , Sahyadri Trauma Care Centre, Bopodi, Ruby Hall Clinic PMC’s plot (scheme implemented), Ruby Hall Clinic (Extra FSI),Tarachand Hospital, KEM Hospital, Poona Hospital Raja Shivray Pratishthan, Kothrud,All India Medical Sciences Hospital,Aundh (incomplete)

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