TEAM INDIA SCOOPS | 24 OCT 2018: Two days after IndiaScoops.com first reported (Read Here) that about Rs 12 crore of public money approximately seems to have been spent till date on the treatment and related expenses concerning Goa CM and former defence minister Manohar Parrikar’s illness, the Goa CM’s office or the Defence Ministry is yet to make any official statement or comment on the matter.
In a state where the common man has to run from pillar to post to get a dialysis done and where a doctor lost his mind and attacked a government medical department head at the Goa Medical College and Hospital for keeping pending and not clearing medical bills worth a few lakh, IndiaScoops.com made several attempts to contact the Goa CM’s office to elicit an official response, but no inputs were forthcoming.
The only statement given off the record was to say that the matter is confidential and top secret and no one is authorized to comment or speak on the subject. The Goa CM’s office however denied that the figure was in the range of Rs 12 crore, but refused to say how much was actually spent.
After consulting several experts and reliable medical sources in Goa, Mumbai, Delhi and the USA, on a conservative estimate, it seems that about Rs 12-13 crore approximately has been spent in all, over the last eight months, on Goa CM Manohar Parrikar’s treatment including related expenses like air-travel and hotel accommodation for the Cabinet Ministers’ who went to meet Parrikar on his instructions at the AIIMS in Delhi recently.
A Goa Medical College and Hospital (GMC) former Medical Director who spoke to IndiaScoops.com said that the total cost of Parrikar’s treatment for his ailments and medical condition till date could have easily crossed Rs 11 crore. Other expenses like air-ambulance, air fares, hotel etc would take the total to over Rs 12 crore at the very minimum. Other medical experts in Goa and abroad pegged the total expenses between Rs 12 crore to Rs 15 crore.
The average cost of cancer treatment and therapy including expert consulting fees, accommodation and medicines at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Institute in the US where Parrikar was admitted is about Rs 3.5 to Rs 3.8 crore per month. This does not include airfare or air ambulance charges and other expenses. Parrikar was also admitted to the Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai as well as the AIIMS in Delhi for different periods of time.
Goan social activist and senior advocate Aires Rodrigues who spoke to IndiaScoops.com, estimated that the cost of Parrikar’s treatment could be in the range of Rs 12 to 15 crore including other miscellaneous expenses.
The Goa Congress – the main opposition party in the State did not pinpoint a figure, saying that the party has filed an RTI and is waiting for a reply. “We will not like to name any figure at this stage, till we get a reply to our RTI application,” Goa Pradesh Congress chief Girish Chodankar told IndiaScoops.com.
The CM’s office in Goa did not entertain calls from IndiaScoops.com and refused to comment or divulge any information regarding Parrikar’s treatment or illness.
When asked by this reporter if the amount spent till date was in the range of Rs 12 crore, the official flatly denied it, but refused to reveal what amount was spent on Parrikar’s treatment. I am not authorized to speak on this matter, the official told the IndiaScoops.com journalist, redirecting us to Goa BJP State President Vinay Tendulkar.
Another official refused an email interview with Parrikar or his press advisor on the subject of his illness and treatment, saying that only Tendulkar may speak on the subject.
Vinay Tendulkar was unavailable for comment on this subject and calls from IndiaScoops.com went unanswered.
Adv Rodrigues who condemned the financial burden on the state exchequer in no uncertain terms told IndiaScoops.com:
When Parrikar was first admitted to the US hospital he was asked to pay a deposit of Rs 3 crore upfront. Subsequently, more payments were made. The cost of his treatment runs into crores, which is being borne by the State. Parrikar and his family is wealthy enough to bear the cost of his own treatment. It is only because he wants a statue, that he is holding on to the post of CM.
The Chief Minister’s Office, in September this year had stated that Parrikar was suffering from a pancreatic ailment and was rushed to the US for the third time because he was experiencing indigestion. There have been differing and sometimes conflicting statements from the CM’s office over the last 6 months.
No official health bulletin has been released by the CM’s office, which in itself is questionable. The people of the state have a right to know the latest updates about the CM, particularly when there have been conflicting reports in the local media.
Even senior Cabinet ministers have over the last six months expressed reservations and raised questions over the status of the CM’s health. Calangute BJP MLA Micheal Lobo was the most vocal and straightforward (Read Here) when he said that the CM must hand over his job to someone else as governance in the State is getting affected.
Lobo was worried about the inability of the government to fill up the 3000 vacant government jobs, most of them in the police and State administrative machinery.
Alliance partner Vijai Sardesai of the Goa Forward Party too expressed his displeasure at the failure of the BJP to appoint a replacement to Parrikar, when he stated in an interview to news agency PTI that Manohar Parrikar’s illness affecting his state’s working. (Read Here).
Sardesai’s hard-hitting statement was frowned upon behind closed doors by some leaders in the BJP and the party issued a clarification seeking to do some damage control.
According to a report in The New Indian Express dated 7th September 2018, the Goa Congress took exception to Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar going to the US for indigestion treatment and sought Governor Mridula Sinha‘s intervention in the matter.
GPCC chief Girish Chodankar who had met the Governor then, was quoted by the New Indian Express saying “since the medical expenses of the three were being met at the expense of the state exchequer the people of Goa should be made aware of the exact nature of ailments.”
“It cannot be believed that the state is being burdened with hefty bills for mere treatment of ‘indigestion’. Also, this does not bode well for the medical care facility and the medical fraternity available in Goa.”
“Does the government desire to claim that its reputed Goa Medical College is unfit to treat a case of ‘indigestion’?” Chodankar had stated in his petition to Sinha.
Curtorim Congress MLA Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco said that a huge amount has been spent by the State of Goa on the treatment of the ailing CM.
“Whatever be the amount spent, the people of Goa have a right to know. The CM’s office must make public all the details regarding the CM’s illness, the cost of the treatment and other matters. Why all the secrecy around the status of the CM’s health? Governance in Goa has come to a standstill. The entire government is in limbo. Even the allies like the GFP and the MGP have started getting restless. There is no clarity from the government or the BJP party. This is not a dictatorship. We live in a democracy. Even BJP Cabinet Ministers are being kept in the dark on the real status of Parrikar’s health. On one hand a statement is made that the CM is recovering and on the other hand, Ministers and bureaucrats are denied appointments with the CM even on very crucial issues concerning the state,” Lourenco told IndiaScoops.com.
Parrikar was admitted to the Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai on February 15 and discharged on February 22. On the same day he returned to Goa and presented the Budget in the Assembly, but the session was truncated to only four days owing to his illness.
According to a FirstPost report: “He (Parrikar) is diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer of the pancreas… He has already been administered one round of chemotherapy when he was admitted to Lilavati Hospital,” sources at the Goa had told a FirstPost reporter.
During the first week of March, Parrikar wrote to the state Goveror Mridula Sinha informing her that he would be going abroad for further treatment. He was flown to Mumbai and admitted to the Lilavati Hospital for a check-up and from there, he was taken to the US for treatment in March.
Editor’s Note: This is a developing story, which will be updated as more inputs come in. The CM’s office and BJP leaders have so far not responded to our request for comments, except for what has been mentioned above. The article will be updated in case anyone responds to IndiaScoops.com.