Seven private hospitals, with over 2,000 beds, are set to come up on a 2.5-km stretch of the EM Bypass, from Ruby General Hospital to the Garia connector, by 2008. The projects, involving an investment of around Rs 500 crore, are to be launched in six months.
“We have okayed five proposals and other two are being considered. The project reports suggest work will begin soon and will be over in 15-18 months,” said municipal commissioner Alapan Bandyopadhyay.
The biggest among the proposed hospitals — Neotia Elbit Health Citi, at Chakgaria — will have 1,000 beds. The others are Sankara Nethralaya, PN Memorial’s Neon Hospital, a multispeciality hospital of Armenian Church, a multispeciality facility each of Eastern India Health Foundation and Wockhardt and a general hospital of AMRI, which will also house a mother-and-child centre.
“There are already three private hospitals in the zone. After the projects are commissioned, the stretch will emerge as a health hub, like hospital clusters in Hyderabad and Chennai,” said Aloke Roy, of the Eastern India Health Foundation.
The private groups have expressed willingness to share the cost of developing infrastructure — roads, street lights and water and sewer lines — in the area. The civic commissioner will soon call a meeting with the representatives of the groups to finalise the cost-sharing.
What has led so many private players to zero in on the Bypass stretch? Roy thinks that several factors, including easy availability of land and access to the airport, has prompted the choice. “From the environmental point of view, too, the region is ideal for hospitals. The 12,500-hectare East Calcutta Wetlands is close to the stretch. Since the wetlands have been declared a Ramsar site, they will remain open forever.”
The secretary-general of the Indian Chamber of Commerce, Rajiv Singh, feels the new hospitals will have a “multiplier effect” on the state’s economy. “They will create employment opportunities and promote health tourism.”
Singh said the city needs a strong healthcare base not just for the people of the state, but also for patients from the Northeast, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan who flock to Hyderabad, Chennai and other south Indian cities for treatment.
The industry is upbeat about the entry of more players, though there is also a fear about the availability of trained manpower.
Health services director Sanchita Bakshi said there should be one nurse for every five beds. “And ideally, there should be a backup pool of 15 per cent of the total number of nurses.”
Going by the calculation, the seven hospitals will need around 480 nurses for the 2,000-odd beds. A health department source said the total demand for doctors, nurses, technicians and ayahs for the new hospitals will cross 2,000.