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Bhopal Memorial Hospital closed indefinitely

Staff Correspondent

Striking employees asked to leave hospital premises



FIGHTING FOR RIGHTS: Striking junior doctors and staff members demonstrating at the Bhopal Memorial Hospital & Research Centre (BMHRC) in Bhopal on Sunday. Photo: A. M. Faruqui

BHOPAL: The Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre, set up for the long-term treatment of the victims of the 1984 Union Carbide gas disaster, has been closed indefinitely due to failure of talks between the hospital management and the striking junior doctors and other staff who are demanding hike in their salaries, better perks as well as recruitment of more staff to provide better service to the patients.

Even as the deadline for vacating the hospital premises came to an end on Sunday evening, the striking junior doctors, nurses and other staff were still sitting on a protest dharna inside the hospital area.

As a result of the strike, barring few very serious patients, the other indoor patients had already left the hospital and the wards were empty on Sunday. Earlier on July 2, a notice signed by the Director- General of the Bhopal Memorial Hospital, I. Mittra had been put up at various points declaring that the hospital was being closed indefinitely and asking the striking doctors and staff to vacate the hospital premises within 24 hours.

The notice read: "Consequent upon the failure of talks between the management and the employees on strike, on account of their unreasonable demands, the management is left with no option but to reluctantly close Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre for the time being. The employees on strike are therefore given two days time to vacate the hospital premises on July 4 by 5 p.m. The management's efforts to persuade the employees to work for the larger interest of the gas victims and allow time to the management to evaluate their demands have failed because of the unrelenting attitude of the employees on strike. This unpleasant and unfortunate decision has therefore been forced upon the management."

The Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre was set up at Karond on the outskirts of the State capital after the Supreme Court had directed Union Carbide Corporation of the US in October 1991 to finance the setting up of a hospital for the long-term treatment of the gas victims.

The UCC had followed this up by setting up the Bhopal Hospital Trust (BHT) in England in February 1992 by appointing one of their former Attorneys as the sole trustee.

BHT was set up with an original contribution of US $ 1000 and the remaining funds for this trust came from selling the Union Carbide's Indian shares that had already been confiscated by the Bhopal district court.

In April 1992, the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) of Bhopal had objected to the Union Carbide Corporation's (UCC) move to raise money for the BHT by selling its shares.

Later in 1998, The CJM's decision was over-ruled by the then Supreme Court Chief Justice, A.M. Ahmadi , and on his retirement, Justice Ahmadi was made the chairman of the Trust which was by then registered in India and renamed as Bhopal Memorial Hospital Trust (BMHT).

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