The Hong Kong-based Parsi philanthropist couple, Jal and Pervin Shroff, who had promised Rs 150 crore to breathe life into the ailing B D Petit Parsee General Hospital (PGH) at Breach Candy, has threatened to withdraw the pledge if the community fails to reach a consensus on tying up with a private hospital chain.
The community members have been sharply divided for three years over lending a part of the 10-acre prime hospital space to New Delhi-based Medanta to build a multi-specialty hospital with the donated sum.
The PGH management, which signed an agreement with Medanta last October but continues to face resistance from the community, said in a recent press statement “the donors have categorically confirmed that they will withdraw their pledge to donate $22.5 million and Global Health Pvt. Ltd has stated that it will also terminate the agreement” if the “community issues are not sorted out” by March 2019. PGH president Homa Petit said in the statement the only losers will be the community and the poor and needy.
As per the terms of the agreement between PGH and Medanta, a seven-storey structure will be built within the PGH premises. Revenue from the new facility, which will also cater to non-Parsis, will be used to run the 106-year PGH, which currently has an occupancy of less than 30%. According to PGH, Medanta will pay Rs 12 crore annually for the first 30 years and if the period is extended, an annual amount of Rs 18 crore for the next 15 years. Medanta will also pay PGH a sum equivalent to one per cent in the first three years, going up to five per cent from the eighth year, of the gross billable revenue. Protesting members have strongly criticised the revenue-sharing model, terming it as not feasible.
A ground-breaking ceremony was performed in 2016. Even as a complaint has been made to the charity commissioner, the Bombay Parsi Punchayat, which owns the hospital, has given its consent.
Some members have alleged that the interests of the community have not been safeguarded with watertight clauses. “How did the PGH managing committee sign away this vast Rs 2,000-crore public trust property without even being trustees in the first place and without mandatory permission of the charity commissioner?” asked advocate Rayomand Zaiwala. “We have enough brilliant Parsi doctors and they need to be brought into the managing committee of PGH to save it from being given away virtually free to Medanta, since the terms of the secret agreement are such that PGH property will be lost forever,” he added.
The PGH release said no part of the land on which the new hospital is to be erected will be alienated but will continue as a community asset. “Medanta will only have operating, equipping and management rights for the new hospital,” said the release.
“Some of the big corporate hospitals that have come up in south Mumbai are struggling to break even. What can we expect from another new venture and rely on them to make profits and support our hospital,” said activist Zoru Bhathena. “More importantly, if they fail to run the venture, what are we going to do with the building?”