It was in 2009 that the central government had proposed the setting up of the Metro Blood Bank in the city. Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s consent for the project came one-and-a-half years ago. Since then any movement that has taken place has been at the cost front, which is steadily headed northwards.
The Rs 340-crore World Bank-funded project has been named the Centre of Excellence for Transfusion Medicine (COE) and is to be facilitated by the Maharashtra District AIDS Control Society (MDACS), the local branch of National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO).
The establishment is to come up on the barracks premises of the Sion hospital, where the Paraplegic Foundation an NGO currently stands. While sources confirm that BMC authorities have asked the organisation to shift into another old barracks, interns from Sion hospital are already living there, in pitiable condition.
The foundation currently has 25 paraplegic persons with it, apart from about 20 attendants (relatives of patients). The NGO also houses a training centre with around 25-30 physically challenged persons who perform several activities to procure the sole income for the institution.
The main source of earnings is their sanitary pad production, with supplies being sent to several BMC hospitals. They also create block-printed fabric and inventive gift items, which they sell by setting up stalls on different occasions through the year.
The establishment rarely receives any form of donation and members say they can’t bear the expenses of shifting to new premises. The BMC-suggested barracks are very old and need repair and renovation. Sources say the estimated expenditure for this would be around Rs 35 lakh, which the NGO cannot afford. The trustees of the foundation have communicated this to BMC, which, ostensibly, hasn’t offered any relief.
“Authorities from BMC had suggested in 2011 that we shift to the adjacent barracks. But the state of that place is deplorable. It is very unsafe for anyone to live in such conditions and we can’t risk shifting our patients there. Currently those barracks are occupied by intern doctors from Sion hospital,” said a representative of the Paraplegic Foundation, on condition of anonymity.
A senior doctor from Sion hospital said, “Instructions to relocate the NGO have been given by BMC authorities. The paraplegics have settled relatively comfortably into the premises; now suddenly shifting them to a new location would create problems. The proposed barracks have small rooms and the disabled persons need space to conduct their exercises and sporting activities.
For this the whole space would have to be renovated.” When contacted, Dr Arun Bame, project director, MDACS, and executive health officer, BMC, said, “a portion of the premises of Paraplegic Founda-tion and the adjoining open space will be used for the Metro Blood Bank project. It is not the responsibility of BMC to look into the rehabilitation of these people, but we’ll still help them.
When asked about the intern doctors occupying the recommended space for the foundation, he said, “It is the responsibility of the dean of Sion hospital to take care of this issue. BMC has informed the foundation it may have to vacate the space it now occupies as soon as the blood bank project is sanctioned.”
Did you know?
The COE is expected be a state-of-the-art centre with a capacity to store up to 1lakh units of blood. Among other amenities, the centre will have provision for nucleic acid testing, biotechnology lab, cord banking and stem cell facilities.