Daijiworld News Network - Mangalore (MB) - Pic Praveen Tauro
Mangalore, Feb 25: Father Muller Charitable Institutions, one of the oldest health care, service and education Institutions in the region, has been running a General Hospital, Leprosy Hospital, Psychiatry (mental) Hospital, Drug and Alcohol De-addiction Centre, a Medical College, Homoeopathic Medical College and College of Nursing all in the sale campus. This institution has a history of 125 years of noble service without any blemish or drawback but only goodwill and appreciation from one and all from the society.
Over the past few days, the institutions were in the news following the city mayor's team making an inspection of the all water connections between Tumbe in Bantwal and Pumpwell junction in the city. The connections have been declared illegal by the mayor. There have been widespread, adverse reports in the media about the alleged water-tapping by the Fr Muller group.
To clarify the matter, the director of the group, Dr Baptist Menezes, convened a press meet at noon on Friday and provided the details of all permssions obtained and payments made over the past 25 years.
The director said the management was hurt at the false allegations, while it has been providing selfless service to the society for 125 years now.
Hardships to institutions
While the Medical College Hospital provides 1050 beds inpatient facility, 750 beds are set as free beds to the poor and needy patients of Mangalore and its region amounting to a free care and charity of around Rs 2.5 to 3 crore per year. The Psychiatry ward which houses 100 patients and Drug and Alcohol De-addiction centre are well-known service oriented hospitals in the region. Besides 1050 beds hospital, there are 2000 students most of whom reside as hostelites and another 1300 employees serve these Institutions day and night.
Father Muller Charitable Institutions received the said water connection in the year 1979, after having obtained permission from Karnataka Urban Water Supply and Drainage Board by entering into an Agreement. The said agreement copies are with the Karnataka Urban Water Supply and Drainage Board. It has been alleged that water connection to Father Muller’s is illegal, fraudulent and unauthorized. There is no meter and no money has been paid. All these are false accusations and baseless.
Properly authorized connection
It is in the year 1979, that this Institution entered into an agreement with Karnataka Urban Water Supply and Drainage Board ref. no. being WSA/4/79-80. Thereafter with an agreement ref AG.No.47/85-86/31-3-88 Institution entered into further agreement and continued to draw water from the same source. A meter bearing no. 50098(S) was installed by the Corporation and instead of the domestic charges, they have been charging non-domestic/commercial charges ever since. Till 1997, Karnataka Urban Water Supply and Drainage Board was supplying water to the city of Mangalore but subsequently in 1997, it was handed over to the Mangalore City Corporation.
Bills paid at commercial tariff
Since 1997 up to its disconnection on February 21, 2006, the Mangalore City Corporation has been supplying water to this Institution regularly. The Institution has been faithfully paying the water bills at commercial rate as and when they were issued by the authorities without fail. The payment made to the Corporation towards water being drawn from the said line from June 12, 2003 to September 29, 2004 is Rs 5,39,967 – just to give an example. This being the case, some newspapers had given wide publicity to saying that Father Mullers has illegally drawn water without any authorization, a meter and has not bothered to pay any amount. "This is far from true," commented the director.
"This being the case, there is no reason why the Worshipful Mayor of the city of Mangalore Corporation chose to disconnect the water supply. The connection is not illegal, a meter has been installed; bills have been regularly issued and promptly paid even though the water that was supplied from the main line was clarified water, the institution subsequently used to have it processed and purified and periodically certified for its potability. We are at a loss as to how this could have happened since we have been faithfully serving the large patient and student community by being law-abiding citizens. No prior notice was even issued and unilateral decision of disconnection was taken against the 125 year old honest institution by the Mayor of Mangalore," said the director.
The action of the Mayor of the Mangalore city Corporation in disconnecting the water supply is totally unilateral, illegal, arbitrary and dangerous. In fact, principles of natural justice require that prior notice should have been issued to the institutions before disconnecting the water supply. This being a hospital it was all the more an obligation to do so.
Now that water has been disconnected, this Institution, the hospital wards and students hostels are hard hit and there is chaos, confusion and atmosphere of unclean toilets and surroundings. If the situation continues, we may be forced to close down the General Hospital and other educational units, which might create problems to the city of Mangalore.
"Our appeals to the Mayor and Corporation authorities to understand the difficulties faced by the Institution and have the water supply restored have fallen on deaf ears. Hence we were constrained to approach the Deputy Commissioners of Dakshina Kannda district with a written representation. He gave us a patient hearing. Having understood the problems the Institutions are facing, he as the Magistrate of the District, has issued orders to restore the water supply to the Institutions. We are relieved of the anxiety and tension, thanks to the benign disposition and timely intervention of the District Commissioner in this difficult situation," added Dr Menezes.