Mumbai: A group of Ayurvedic doctors and scientists here who panicked last month as Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (BVB), the Rs3,000 crore social and educational trust, threatened to close a research centre, has gotten a reprieve: they can operate until treatments end in September.
Mint’s 28 April story reported that the trust’s lease was expiring at the Lotus Eye Hospital Campus and that the centre, believed to be among the few in India combining ancient and modern medicine techniques under one roof, would have to vacate the premises by 1 May.
That threw into doubt the fate of about 200 patients, suffering mostly from arthritis, cervical cancer and diabetes, who were in the middle of receiving treatment.
“We decided to act in the interests of the patients. We have extended the lease until September, when the projects are scheduled to end,” said Navin Shah, the managing trustee of Lotus Trust. “We did not want them to suffer.” The medical director of BVB’s Swami Prakashananda Ayurveda Research Centre (Sparc), Ashok Vaidya, had written to Shah, requesting as much.
The Lotus Eye Hospital has housed Sparc for the last 20 years. Due to a friendly understanding between the two trusts, Lotus Trust had given the building rent-free to BVB, for 20 years. Shah said while it was true that the lease was expiring and that Lotus Trust had written to BVB about one year ago, Lotus was willing to extend the lease.
“In fact, it was BVB that had told us not to extend the lease at all,” he said. Shah said he did not understand why the centre needed to close down, saying BVB had acres of land elsewhere in Mumbai to house the facility. Shah said the two parties appeared to be engaged in an “internal political problem.”
BVB, which maintains that Sparc was being closed because it posted losses and the lease was expiring, has seen several leaders resign in recent months citing impropriety in the way funds were being managed. The Ayurvedic centre operated as a subsidiary with a budget of Rs10 crore. Asked for comment on the lease’s extension, BVB board member Manish Srikant said, “This has happened because we asked the Lotus Trust to extend the lease Sparc’s Vaidya said the staff and patients were grateful to Lotus Trust. “It was unethical to abandon our patients,” he said.