Srinagar: Whether or not they are authorised to do so, it is certainly unethical on the part of private hospitals in Srinagar to be charging vehicle parking fees from sick and distressed people who come for help. But that’s what some of them are doing, though not all of them, making some extra bucks in the name of ensuring safety of vehicles.
Srinagar city has a number of private hospitals, mostly located on its outskirts, which attract a large number of patients from different corners of Kashmir valley. The patients usually come to seek consultation of top doctors or for surgical treatment.
While the consultation of doctors comes at a huge fee, the surgical treatment too costs a hefty amount at such hospitals. The harried patients say that on top of this, they’re asked also to shell out parking fees.
“We already bear huge expenses in a private hospital, but the authorities don’t settle at this only. They charge money even for parking our vehicles, every time we come,” said Altaf Ahmad, a resident of Srinagar.
He added that some hospitals have fixed time slots according to which parking charges are to be paid. “For one hour we have to pay 20 rupees. It increases by ten rupees for every hour after that,” he said.
Basharat Ahmad, a resident of Anantnag, also complained of parking fees charged by private hospitals in Srinagar. “This amounts to sheer profiteering. Where does their conscience lie?” he asked.
This reporter visited different private hospitals in Srinagar to check on the parking fees. Interestingly, only a few private hospitals were charging for parking. Several others had kept parking free for their visitors.
Four privately-run hospitals – Star Hospital at Rawalpora, New City Hospital at Tengpora, Noora Hospital at Zainakote, and Florence Hospital at Chanpora – were charging parking fees from visitors.
All these four hospitals charged ten to twenty rupees for parking vehicles, the receipts of which lie with Kashmir Reader. Two hospitals among them had fixed a time-limit for charging a certain amount of fee, exceeding which the parking fees increased.
In this regard, Tawqeer Ahmad, Manager at Florence Hospital, told Kashmir Reader that the paid parking in their hospital is for the safety of vehicles. “If a person owns a vehicle worth certain lakhs of rupees, he won’t find it a problem to shell out ten or twenty rupees to secure their car. This is being done for the safety and security of patients and their attendants who visit the hospital,” he said.
While acknowledging that many other private hospitals are not charging parking fees, he said that the parking has been made chargeable because they had to appoint a separate employee to deal with the parking of vehicles and ensure their safety.
Akbar Sofi, Chief Enforcement Officer at Srinagar Municipal Corporation, told Kashmir Reader that there is nothing questionable in the charging of parking fees by private hospitals, unless they had registered their institutions with the municipality.
“Such hospitals need to register with the municipality and renew their registrations after every year. The municipality has nothing to do with their parking. It only regulates the parking rates in public places in Srinagar city. The decision lies solely with the hospital authorities,” Sofi said.