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Mumbai: Who broke ground first for Bhandup hospital, PM Modi or Congress?

Updated on: 21 January,2023 07:56 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Anurag Kamble |

Opp party says it flagged off project in March last year, BJP terms claim a cry for attention

Mumbai: Who broke ground first for Bhandup hospital, PM Modi or Congress?

A BJP poster that was put up at the hospital construction site in Bhandup ahead of the PM’s groundbreaking ceremony. Pics/Rajesh Gupta

The groundbreaking ceremony of Bhandup’s long-awaited municipal super-speciality hospital, which was performed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday, has become a subject of controversy. Congress leaders claim their party had performed the rite in March 2022 and construction work was already underway; the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) termed these statements a poor attempt to seek attention. Sources in the BMC administration told mid-day a ceremony was indeed held by Congress leaders but it was not an official one.

The 10-storey, 360-bed Bhandup hospital will be built at a cost of Rs 464 crore. Though the demand for the multi-speciality hospital was a decade old, the administration green-lit it on March 6. On January 20, mid-day reported about three other civic super-speciality hospitals in the suburbs whose redevelopment work had begun four years ago but were yet to be completed.

Ex-corporator Suresh Koparkar (third from left) at the March 7, 2022 ceremony
Ex-corporator Suresh Koparkar (third from left) at the March 7, 2022 ceremony

Mumbai Congress President Bhai Jagtap and ex-corporator Suresh Koparkar claimed they performed the groundbreaking ceremony almost a year ago. A board mentioning this fact can be found on the site as well, they said.

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Koparkar told mid-day, “My wife Asha and I followed up with the BMC for years to get the funds sanctioned for the project. Rs 464 crore was set aside for it in March 2022. We then held a groundbreaking ceremony. Now, if the BMC or BJP claims our groundbreaking was merely political, why was the work started six months ago? If you visit the site, JCBs can be seen at work. This must be a one-of-a-kind groundbreaking where work began even before the ceremony took place.”

He added, “If the Prime Minister has performed it again, we take it as a compliment that the need for the hospital was genuine.” Jagtap said, “A Congress corporator pursued the project and got it sanctioned by the BMC. I performed the ceremony on the morning of March 7 with my own hands. But now the state government has carried it out again with the PM’s hands. This is not a surprise. The PM and BJP keep doing this. I want to ask the municipal commissioner how such a ceremony can be allowed when the work had already commenced.”

Of the R464 crore sanctioned for the construction of the hospital Rs 25 crore was set aside for the financial year 2022-23. When mid-day visited the construction site on Friday, two JCBs were carrying out excavation work while workers were going about their tasks. One worker said, “The work started more than six months ago. We don’t know about who performed the groundbreaking ceremony but the work has been going on consistently.” Nobody from the construction company agreed to speak to this newspaper.

Slamming the Congress, BJP MLA Mihir Kotecha said, “For 2.5 years, they had the MVA government. If the work was sanctioned a year ago, they could have done it as they were in power. At the time, just for the sake of taking credit, some leaders held a small event. It was not a formal BMC event. On Thursday, the country’s prime minister performed the groundbreaking ceremony. Why is Congress creating a controversy now? Rather than doing vasooli for years, they should have taken infrastructure works seriously.”

Construction work for the 360-bed facility underway on Friday
Construction work for the 360-bed facility underway on Friday

mid-day tried to get in touch with Additional Municipal Commissioner Dr Sanjeev Kumar but he remained unavailable for comment. Highly placed sources in the civic body, however, said, “The so-called ceremony in 2022 took place the very next day the proposal got sanctioned. It wasn’t an official BMC event. Thursday’s event was the real ceremony.”

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