NRI, Dr. dream project, a heart hospital at Andheri (West)
to be completed in 2006 with Rs 300-crore venture

Mumbai, July 26, 2004
Hubert Vaz
Pune News Line
Express India

Dr Alka Mandke, wife of late Dr Nitu Mandke, is determined to see her husband’s pet project - a heart hospital and research centre - through as he had planned.

Mumbai hospital will now bear Ambani’s name, not late Dr Nitu Mandke’s. She puts on a brave face but traces of emotion betray her true feelings.

‘‘It was very traumatic for me to let go of his name but I convinced myself that fulfiling his dream was more important,’’ are the poignant words of Dr Alka Mandke, widow of the celebrated cardiac surgeon, Dr Nitu Mandke.

She is referring to her late husband’s dream project, a heart hospital to be located at Andheri (West). The super-speciality medical facility, which was to have been called the ‘Mandke Heart Hospital and Medical Research Centre’, will now bear the Ambani name, says Dr Mandke, who reveals that the Reliance Group will be funding two-thirds of the cost. That’s a staggering Rs 200 crore.

While the Ambanis are tight-lipped about the project, Dr Mandke disclosed that Anil Ambani, chairperson of the Reliance Group, has told her that the hospital would be a tribute to his late father Dhirubhai Ambani. ‘‘The dream of one visionary is being completed as a tribute to another visionary,’’ says Dr Mandke.

The Rs 300-crore venture, to be completed in 2006, is expected to give a significant boost to medical tourism. Consider the facilities. Each bed will have 1,000-sq ft space; it will be the only hospital in India with a helipad; an international convention centre; and facilities for visiting doctors from around the globe.

‘‘Many Indian doctors who go abroad for research will be able to fulfil their ambitions here while visiting foreign doctors will get facilities comparable with the West in this hospital,’’ says Dr Mandke.

Disclosing that final modalities are still being discussed, Dr Mandke clarifies that ‘‘the Ambanis have not bought the hospital and are only participating in the completion of an unfinished charitable venture’’. She explains that the government has granted the 3.5-acre plot to the Malathi Vasant Heart Trust (established in 1986 in memory of Dr Mandke’s parents) for a non-profit hospital project.

It continues to be categorised as a ‘Section 25 research company’, wherein revenue will be recycled for further development of the project itself. Even if the facility bears the Ambani name, Dr Nitu Mandke’s presence will be felt. His name will be given to the convention centre while a bust will be installed at a strategic point at the hospital.

Why his wife met Ambanis
The shortlist included the Apollo Group, Hindujas, Birlas, Wockhardt, NRI groups and some doctor syndicates, none of which could accept the key condition of the facility continuing as a no-profit, charitable trust hospital.

‘‘The thought process of the Ambanis met with ours. They did not look at this as a profitable venture but as a chance to do something for society,’’ says Dr Alka Mandke.