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350-bed government hospital leased to health minister at one rupee per year

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350-bed government hospital leased to health minister at one rupee per year
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Palanpur (Gujarat): Imagine a 35-bed government hospital being given on lease for just a rupee per year? And that too for 33 years? And what will you call it when the parties to this business are the government and a trust of the health minister? Well, in Gujarat, this will also be called development.

This towering hospital in downtown In Banaskantha, Gujarat is the only one the people can count on. But few noticed it when the BJP government, in the thick and bustle of electoral campaigns, bartered away the only civil hospital of the Palanpur area at a paltry price.

To recall another lease history, following the earthquake in Bhuj, a 400-bed government hospital was built with aid including aid from international agencies, but later that was leased to Adani for running at an annual price of One Rupee. This is what emboldened the health minister Shankar Chaudhari to take over the government district hospital on lease for his private medical college. But on his part, Chaudhary's claim is that when their medical college becomes a reality, Banaskantha will become the hub of patients from northern Gujarat and Rajasthan. Earlier, he had declared at a press conference that he would start a medical college with a 700-bed hospital in Moria, just seven kilometers from Palnpur. Even as his dream hospial was yet to become a reality, he wanted to sell the medical seats for which he took on lease the exisitng government hospital clandestinely.

However, the minister's position is that they would complete the hospital construction in five years until which the Palanpur civil hospital will be taken on lease. But then the lease is not for five years, but a full 33 years. He also claims that even after the trust takes over the government hospital, its services will continue as before. But this claim hides sevel provisions in the lease deal. According to the MOU signed between the trust and the government, even after the take over for the private hospital the salary of the staff will continue to be paid by the Gujarat government, and the doctors and employees of the hospital can continue for a year. After that the trust will decide whether their services would be required or not. In other words, the trust needs to meet the salary costs of the hospital only after five years. It is when Banaskantha is still lagging far behind in health index that in Gujarat, where education has been completely commercialized, a government hospital is being leased to its health minister for sale of medical seats.

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