Mumbai: Taking the coronavirus pandemic as a lesson to upgrade the health infrastructure, Asia's richest municipality – Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) – has finally shortlisted two land parcels in Mulund and Bhandup to set up a 5,000-bed hospital for infectious diseases. According to BMC officials, one of the two land parcels will spread across 20 acres.
"We have shortlisted two places in Mulund and Bhandup. The idea was to acquire a land that was centrally located, so that even citizens from MMR can have an easy access. The new hospital will prove to be much more effective than the jumbo isolation facilities that we have created. Many of these isolation facilities have been converted into Dedicated Covid Health Care Centres," said a senior BMC official.
The official added, "The land will be acquired through the acquisition process. As of now, we would start field visits, and once the field visit reports come in, the acquisition process will be initiated.”
According to state and civic officials, one of the major factors why the Covid-19 outbreak went out of control in Mumbai in the initial days is because the financial capitals had only one dedicated infectious diseases facility Kasturba Hospital in Lower Parel, which has only 125 beds. As the pandemic hit in March, Kasturba was put on alert and by April itself the hospital got overwhelmed. At the other end, it took some time for the civic administration to turn the almost non-functional SevenHills hospital in Andheri into a Covid facility. The move did enable the BMC to get ready to fight the virus, and then eventually prompted to pull in private hospitals to share the burden.
But by the time the city’s health infrastructure was getting equipped to battle the raging pandemic, far too many lives were lost and cases had surged to the extent that Mumbai became the Covid hotspot of the state. Many lost their lives just waiting for a bed to be allotted.
The project was first discussed by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray in a meeting with senior bureaucrats like Chief Secretary Sanjay Kumar and Municipal Commissioner IS Chahal in July. Following which the civic body had invited expression of interest (EOI) from landowners and developers for the acquisition of the land parcel for construction of the hospital.
As per the EOI conditions, the land parcel to be acquired should be around 20 acres which should be close to the Western Express Highway and Eastern Express Highway, and should have a 90-foot wide accessible road development plan for direct access to the hospital.