Follow the law, Parsi activist tells Medanta

Zoru Bathena writes to hospital group chief on legality of deal with B.D. Petit Parsee General Hospital

A Parsi community member and activist has written to Medanta Group’s Dr. Naresh Trehan saying if his intentions to run a hospital inside the premises of B.D. Petit Parsee General Hospital (PGH) are noble, he must follow the law. The PGH plans to build the new hospital tower with a $22.5-million donation from a Hong Kong couple but the community has been divided over the feasibility of the plan.

“I have raised all the pertinent points in my letter. If the plans take off in this way, I will seek legal action,” said Zoru Bathena.

The 106-year-old PGH at Cumballa Hill has been faced with annual losses of over ₹8 crore due to declining patient footfalls. While the Parsis-only hospital has limited facilities, many of the community members have moved to the suburbs. The dwindling Parsi population is another reason for the drop in the number of patients. With the new cosmopolitan hospital, the managing trustees hope to revive and cross-subsidise the existing facility for Parsis.

“The trustees of this magnificent property may be willing to turn a blind eye to several critical irregularities, but we, the beneficiaries of the trust, cannot,” Mr. Bathena has said in his letter. “The agreement purports to hand over an entire (unfurnished) building within the PGH premises to Medanta for its exclusive use for 30 years and a further 15 years, upon renewal. The effect of the said agreement squarely falls within the definition of a lease,” said Mr. Bathena. The agreement is neither registered, nor stamped, nor signed by the property owner — the Bombay Parsi Punchayet. Neither has any statutory approval been taken before agreeing to hand over the trust property to Medanta, on such terms, it said.

Mr. Bathena has suggested to the BPP that the existing space be leased out to any commercial or professional diagnostic centre, which can set up its equipment for general use. “This will upgrade facilities for the PGH patients and generate the much needed-income. There is no need to build a new hospital building to solve this challenge.” This is one suggestion other community members agree with.

Published on The Hindu