Mamata wants new hospital to be built for Muslims only in South 24 Parganas
Asim Kumar Mitra
And now Mamata-government in West Bengal has proposed to build up a hospital exclusively for Muslim patients. This hospital will be categorised as Super Specialty hospital along with a Medical College. The government has already acquired land for it in Bhangar, South 24 Parganas district. This district is situated on the border of Bangladesh and Muslim population here is 22, 95, 967 in a total population of 69, 06, 689. But the specialty of this population is that they have created pockets along with the Bangladesh border and on south, with sea which is very dangerous from the security point of view.
On August 28, 2012 Anandbazar Patrika, the largest circulated Bengali newspaper of Kolkata, had expressed deep concern over this move of Mamata-government. They have printed a news on front page with banner headline “State wants to build new hospital for minorities only”. People at large are very much concerned with it.
At the very outset of the proposal for this kind of hospital, the Medical Council of India has put up a big question mark: Whether a hospital meant for a particular religious group can be established? But the State government did not pay any heed to this question. Instead they have asked the concerned department of the government to prepare a Detailed Project Report (DPR) which they would submit to the Planning Commission to get the necessary approval. The Minority Cell of the government of West Bengal is supervising the work of this project. This department is held by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Medical Council of India (MCI) had already communicated that there could not be quota based on religion while admitting and allotting a bed for a patient. For this seriousness of the ailment of the patient is considered. An officer of MCI has opined, “Can there be any religion of a patient? Patient is simply a patient.” Another officer said that as blood cannot be kept separately on religion basis while collection of blood is there in blood donation camps, so is the case in regard to patients as well. He claimed that there was a ruling by the apex court in this regard.
Even after these view-points expressed by the MCI, Sushanta Bandyopadhyay, Director, Health & Education department, said, “Personally the Chief Minister Ms. Mamata Banerjee had taken this initiative. Under her direction I am going to Bhangar, where the land for building up this Medical College & Minority Hospital, has been identified.” Actually this plot of 22 acres of land belong the Kolkata Corporation and Municipal Commissioner Khalil Ahmed said, “This 22 acre plot has been given to the Health Department on lease for a token charge of rupee one only.”
According to the project of the Health Department, it is said that with a view to render medical services to the patients belonging to minority group, especially Muslims, establishment of a 500-bed Multi-Specialty and Super Specialty hospital and a 100-seat Medical College have been planned. Already a fund of rupees 40 crore has been allotted from the Central government fund of “Backward Regions Grant Fund” (BRGF) for this project. To get this fund, a DPR has to be sent to the concerned department. Hence, Health Department had directed the PWD to prepare this project report in no time.
The Health Department did not forget to mention that establishment of the said Minority Hospital is a government decision. According to the Health Department building up of such a hospital will need at least Rs100 crore. If BRGF allows Rs. 40 crore, which is more or less a definite possibility, where from the other Rs 60 crore would come? There is a loud thinking that this gap would be made up by the Public Private Participation (PPP). But that would mean that the control of the proposed hospital may go to the hands of private parties which the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee would not like.
An officer of the Health Department has said that the Chief Minister is apprehensive of private control over the proposed hospital as that would fraught with the risk of breaking the minority character of the hospital. Hence she is not ready for going with PPP proposal. She would better go for collection of the required fund with government initiative. But this proposal has not been explained in so many words.