On 16 January, the Bombay High Court rebuked the Maharashtra government for delaying the grant of financial help to Wadia Hospitals for Women and Children and criticized stating that the government has money for statues but not for public health.
A two-judge bench of Justices SC Dharmadhikari and RI Chagla was hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by Sarva Shramik Sanghatna seeking the release of funds from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the State government to Bai Jerbai Wadia Hospital for Children and Nowrosjee Wadia Maternity Hospital.
As per the trust deed signed by the hospitals, the maternity hospital receives grants from the State and BMC, while the children’s hospital gets funds from the civic body. However, since December, the BMC had held back the payment of such grants, citing irregularities. Thus, the employees of the hospitals-initiated protests over their unpaid salaries and pensions.
During the hearing of the PIL on Thursday, Advocate Girish Godbole, who was appearing for the State, informed the Bench that the Finance Department has sanctioned ₹24 crores for the maternity hospital and will release it within three weeks.
Aggravated by this statement, the bench said that Public health has never been a priority for the government. Further, the bench directed the government to release the funds by Friday and to submit accounts of its finances in the next hearing i.e. on Friday.
“The government wants to build Babasaheb Ambedkar’s statue taller than the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel statue. For all this money is there, but those people whom Ambedkar represented all his life can die? Do people require medical aid or statues to rid themselves of ailments and diseases?” asserted the bench.