Govt's deal with Dubai NRI to upgrade Udupi hospital draws flak

The state government’s decision to allow Abu Dhabi-based Indian businessman B R Shetty to upgrade a government hospital in Udupi has come in for flak in the social media.

On his official Twitter handle “@CMofKarnataka”, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had recently tweeted, “the government has decided to hand over the hospital to Shetty to upgrade it into multi-speciality hospital”.

As many as 34 people have responded to the tweet both for and against the government decision. The government’s move is also being hotly discussed on a WhatsApp group.

Former Udupi MLA Raghupathy Bhat of BJP has tweeted that land for the hospital had been donated to the government by Haji Abdul Sahib with an intention that a state-run hospital come up there. Bhat has urged the government to reconsider its decision. “If everything is going to be privatised, then why should the government exist”, another tweet said. “Private hospitals are after money. How can the poor get treatment in such hospitals”, posted one Abdul Sattar Ucchila in his tweet.

Prof K Paniraj, who began a discussion on the WhatsApp group, said it is unfortunate that in the name of service, hi-tech hospitals are being started by the rich denying the middle class and the poor access to hospitals where treatment is available at an affordable cost.

Another former MLA of Udupi, U R Sabhapathi recalled that the S M Krishna government had proposed to hand over the hospital to Kasturba Medical College. However, the government withdrew its decision after there was a public outcry.

Reporters were briefed that in its meeting on August 24, the state Cabinet decided that three parcels of land belonging to the Health and Family Welfare department in Udupi be handed over to B R Shetty owned company BRS Ventures to develop a hospital.

However, the Cabinet note tells a different story. The note states that Shetty had come forward to build a pediatric and maternity hospital, a 400-bed super-speciality hospital and a community health centre. Shetty’s company had sought 15 months to complete the pediatric and maternity hospital and 24 months to finish the community health centre.

The note stated that the company would collect “minimum” charges for using facilities at the super-speciality hospital. Laboratory fees, doctor fees will be charged separately.

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