Retired naval officer urges Bombay Parsi Punchayet to keep up the good work done by the community and facilitate cancer care at Parsi Lying-in Hospital, Fort
Article by Suraj Pandey | Mid-Day
Vehicles used for film shooting outside the Parsi Lying-in Hospital at Fort. A Bombay Parsi Punchayet trustee said the managing committee has been allowing shooting of ads on the premises. Pics/Ashish Raje
Amid Mumbai’s struggle for space, a few Parsis are clamouring for the meaningful use of the premises of the Parsi Lying-in Hospital at Fort. The facility opened as a maternity hospital in 1895 but has been defunct for the past three decades. A retired naval officer has now requested the Bombay Parsi Punchayet, the custodian of the property, to hand it over to the Tata Memorial Centre.
Spread over 17,000 square feet, the Parsi Lying-in Hospital is one of the oldest maternity homes in the city, built especially for Parsi women. Former prime minister Indira Gandhi’s husband Feroze Gandhi was born here. While the Punchayet had tried to revive the hospital and invited tenders a few years ago, its faced opposition from a section of the community.
Former PM Indira Gandhi’s husband Feroze Gandhi was born in this hospital
Stressing good work done by the Parsi community and the need to serve humanity, Commodore Medioma Bhada (Retd.) recently wrote to the Punchayet about an unscheduled visit to the Tata Memorial Centre. “I was appalled to see the lobbies and corridors of this hospital packed with people. Patients and their escorts were seen squatting on the floors with many on stretchers in the area, all for the lack of space. Apparently, a major problem being faced by the Centre.” Commodore Bhada also wrote a casual visit to Siddharth College, Fort, took him past the Parsi Lying-in Hospital. “I had read and heard a lot about this unique hospital earlier but seeing it thus, for the first time, was really heart-wrenching. Such a magnificent structure with a beautiful and intricate facade, built in the late 19th Century for such a noble cause, lying dilapidated and defunct for the last three decades.”
Citing data available in the public domain, the letter says collector’s rent and other annual outgoings for the defunct property are upward of Rs 3.5 crore, while attempts to sub-lease it haven’t been successful.
The Bombay Parsi Punchayet is the custodian of the hospital
Commodore Bhada wrote when he informally discussed the potential use of the Fort premises for cancer care, Tata Memorial Director Dr RA Badwe was delighted as they were looking for space in South Mumbai to establish a hub for their Centre. “I request the Trustees, the Custodians of this altruistic institution, to kindly consider donating this property to the Nation in furtherance of their search for additional healthcare space. This could be with a proviso that it should be given to the Tata Memorial Centre for their specific use. True, there will be many antagonists from within our community who oppose this move but righteousness will prevail when the cause is noble,” says his letter. The retired naval officer said he is hopeful the Puncheyet will make a “fruitful” decision. He said, “As there is an acute shortage of healthcare facilities in the city and since the PLIH [Lying-in hospital] has been in a disused state for more than three decades, the appropriate authority in the government or the Indian Medical Council could consider acquiring this redundant healthcare facility on mutually acceptable terms. It will help a lot in serving people.” Armaity Tirandaz, chairman of Bombay Parsi Punchayet, said, “I don’t know if BPP has received an appeal. If it has, then we will discuss it with the board.”
‘We want to revive it’
Another trustee, Viraf Mehta, said the managing committee is allowing film shooting at the hospital without taking the permission of the Punchayet. “We are in talks with people and we want to revive it… One proposal has come to give it to Tata institute. One individual has made that request something we can consider to get more details. Ultimately we want to use this property, for the benefit of our community and also the general community. We’re looking at all the options to take back the hospital from the managing committee.”
Maneck Engineer, a member of the managing committee, didn’t respond to calls and messages.