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Sankara Nethralaya branch in Kolkata

Special Correspondent

Fully owned unit to come up on half acre with an investment of Rs.20 cr.



Dr. Badrinath

Kolkata: Sankara Nethralaya on Sunday announced its decision to invest Rs.20 crore to set up a full-fledged eye-care hospital here.

It will come up on half an acre of land provided by the West Bengal government on the arterial Eastern Metropolitan Bypass, which is emerging as a health corridor. This will be its first fully owned hospital here after an earlier tripartite partnership facility was wound up.

Talking informally with reporters after an inaugural function, Dr. S. S. Badrinath, president and chairman-emeritus Medical Research Foundation (the registered society which runs the Sankara Nethralaya), said requests for setting up similar hospitals had been received from many States, including Uttarakhand and Punjab, but there were no immediate plans to start ventures there.

He said the Kolkata hospital, which might become operational by April-May 2008, would offer free treatment to 25 per cent of needy patients. In the first phase, 50,000 sq.ft. would be provided on a five-storey building. At least 700 patients — from the city and neighbouring countries Bangladesh and Nepal as well — would be treated daily.

Dr. Badrinath said although the group began a facility in the Salt Lake area on the eastern fringes of the city in 2003 it would start out on its own since “we could not function the way we wanted to.”

For catering to existing patients till the hospital came up, a facility was opened in central Kolkata from July 2007, operating from a house given free of cost by a philanthropist. “This hospital will soon start surgeries also.”

The earlier facility was being run by an agreement with the Asia Heart Foundation and the Rotary Club and was treating 300 patients daily. Doctors trained at its Chennai unit would treat patients in the Kolkata hospital, Dr. Badrinath said.

Surgeries

The new city facility would have facilities for performing more than 50 surgeries daily, including complicated retinal surgeries, glaucoma, squint and paediatric surgeries. There were hints of a scale-up in operations and a bigger project but no details were available.

Dr. Lingam Gopal, chairman of the foundation, said that since its beginning in 1978 with a single ophthalmologist Sankara Nethralaya had grown into a 1,000-strong organisation.

Research facility

He said it had embarked on an ambitious programme to develop ophthalmic research through the setting up of a Rs. 30-crore research facility. It would conduct ‘path-breaking’ research in the fields of nanotechnology, stem cell research, bio-medical engineering and preventive ophthalmology.

This project commenced in February 2007 and would be commissioned in April 2008.

Among those present on the occasion were West Bengal Health and Family Welfare Minister Surjya Kanta Mishra, Minister for Sundarbans Affairs Kanti Ganguly and Municipal Commissioner Alapan Bandyopadhyay.

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