Wadia, BMC rift widens: Civic body alleges violations of contract terms by hospital

Even as the rift between the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and Wadia hospital widened last week when the hospital put out a notice informing it had shut new admissions, the civic body has now listed a number of violations against hospital, which runs Bai Jerbai Wadia Hospital and Nawrosjee Wadia Maternity Hospital. The civic body alleged that the hospital had increased its bed strength, appointed more staff without the civic body’s approval and not produced a list of poor patients it was supposed to treat, as per terms of the contract with the BMC and the state government.

Wadia hospital denied these allegations, saying it had “complied with all terms” and demanded that the civic body must clear pending dues of Rs 105.8 crore for Bai Jerbai Hospital and Rs 31.4 crore for Nawrosjee Hospital so that it could run its departments. On Monday, the staff and nurses of the hospital also staged a protest, demanding their December salary and pending pension. Nana Parab from Lal Bavta General Kamgaar Union said the staff will continue to protest for the next two days. Another staff member from the hospital said only the out-patient department of the hospital was functioning.

Last week, the hospital had shut admissions, claiming it could not procure medicines and equipment as the BMC had delayed funds to clear dues of its vendors. The hospital authorities are set to meet Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday, followed by a separate meeting with Mayor Kishori Pednekar.

“The Wadia hospital increased its staff and beds without the BMC’s approval. In 2012, we recommended names of two civic officials to be on the hospital’s board. That request was not heeded,” said Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakane.

BMC also said the maternity hospital had increased its beds by 280, and the children’s hospital by 399 ever since the contract was signed. Both hospitals, together, have 925 beds now. “The BMC inspections showed that they were not treating 50 per cent poor patients free of cost,” Kakane said. Dr Minnie Bodhanwala, however, said, “We have complied by all terms. The matter is now sub-judice.”

A spokesperson for the hospital said they had six vacant posts for BMC officials, but were waiting for the civic body to appoint them. While the hospital claimed dues to the tune of over Rs 135 crore were pending, the BMC said it was supposed to pay less than Rs 20 crore as dues since October 2019.

“The due amount will be cleared in a week. If Wadia hospital claims there is more, it must present the expenditure,” a civic official said.

‘Political ploy to shut down hospital’

The BJP opposed the closure of Parel-based Wadia hospital on Monday, alleging a “political conspiracy” to shut the hospital.

Former minister and BJP MLA Ashish Shelar said it was evident that the BMC had turned a blind eye to the hospital’s issues and it should have addressed the concerns of the Wadia Trust.