28 Sep 2023 5:00 AM GMT
The Bombay High Court on Wednesday pulled up the Thane Municipal Corporation for inordinate delay in construction of a 100-bedded hospital in Kausa, Mumbra, conceived in 2008. The amount sanctioned for the project has increased to over Rs. 122 Crores from Rs. 10 Crores sanctioned in 2008, but the project remains incomplete.A division bench of Chief Justice Devendra Kumar Upadhyaya and...
The Bombay High Court on Wednesday pulled up the Thane Municipal Corporation for inordinate delay in construction of a 100-bedded hospital in Kausa, Mumbra, conceived in 2008. The amount sanctioned for the project has increased to over Rs. 122 Crores from Rs. 10 Crores sanctioned in 2008, but the project remains incomplete.
A division bench of Chief Justice Devendra Kumar Upadhyaya and Justice Arif S Doctor in a PIL filed by the Association For Protection of Civil Rights, appointed a Court Commission to investigate the delay observing –
“the apathy on the part of the Municipal Corporation of the City of Thane (hereafter referred to as “the Corporation”) is writ large in this case, where having conceived a 100-bedded hospital at Kausa, Mumbra in the year 2008, till date neither construction of the hospital is complete nor has it become functional. There cannot be any justification for such unexplained and inordinate delay in completion of a project concerning healthcare of the general public.”
The Commission will comprise of a doctor nominated by the Dean of JJ Hospital, a Civil Engineer not below the rank of Executive Engineer nominated by the Secretary, Maharashtra Public Works Department, and Meenaz Kakalia, a practicing lawyer from the HC.
As per TMC’s affidavit, it sanctioned an initial amount of Rs. 10 crores for the project in 2008. In 2013, the tentative cost was increased to Rs. 27.83 crores, and in 2014, it was further revised to Rs. 54.36 crores. Despite the issuance of a work order in August 2014, the hospital's construction has been delayed. According to the work order, construction of the hospital was to be completed within 24 calendar months, excluding the monsoon.
Further, the project's scope was expanded to include additional constructions such as TB Ward, Kitchen, Canteen, Pathology, Blood Bank, Pediatric Ward, OTPT, C Section OT, Morgue, Kitchen Gas Bank, Medical Gas Bank, Sub-station and underground Tank, as per TMC’s affidavit. Even after the General Body of the Corporation sanctioned an additional cost of Rs. 67.88 crores in April 2018, the hospital's completion remains pending.
TMC has admitted that residents of Kausa do not have access to medical facilities and the proposed hospital will give them access to proper healthcare facilities. “Once this fact has been acknowledged by the Corporation, it is difficult to comprehend as to why construction and making the hospital functional has been pending for so long period”, the court stated.
TMC in the affidavit further stated that sanction has been granted for recruitment of doctors and other staff, and OPD, Gynecology and Administrative departments have been started by using the existing staff.
However, the petitioner in an affidavit stated that there are no existing staff in place, and that one of the Primary Health Centres had been shifted to the hospital building.
The court noted that the construction of the building including the civil and electrical work etc. has not been completed, and the hospital has not become operational. Thus, the court decided to appoint the Court Commission to inspect the building and submit a report.
The Commission has to visit the spot, conduct an inspection, interact with the staff available there and prepare a report on the stage of completion of construction, available infrastructure, status of healthcare services. The commission also has to report how the existing structure of the building can be used so that new departments may be started, and whether machines and medical equipment procured are used and utilization.
The TMC is required to file an additional reply detailing the steps taken to procure equipment and recruit adequate staff. It must also provide the minimum time required for the hospital's full functionality in phases. The court set the next hearing on November 8, 2023, and directed the commission to submit its report by that date.
Senior Advocate Yusuf Muchhala, along with Advocates Karim Pathan, Rashda Ainapure, and Arbaz Shaikh represented the petitioners.
Senior Advocate Ram Apte along with Advocates Narayan Bubna and Saurabh B Mishra represented TMC.
PP Kakade, Government Pleader, along with RA Salunkhe, Additional Government Pleader appeared for the State.
Case no. – Public Interest Litigation No. 24 of 2022
Case Title – Association For Protection of Civil Rights (APCR) and Ors. v. Municipal Commissioner, Municipal Corporation of the City of Thane & Ors.
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