The Rotary buzz in Kolkata

RIPE Stephanie Urchick was impressed going through the super speciality wings of Rotary Techno Netralaya, the largest among the 13 eye hospitals being run by RID 3291, at Salt Lake, Sector-5, the IT hub of Kolkata. “You are doing a wonderful work at the eye hospital,” she said to PRIP Shekhar Mehta, managing trustee, Eastern India Rotary Welfare Trust which runs the hospital in partnership with Techno India Group.

RIPE Stephanie Urchick at the Rotary Techno Netralaya, along with (from L) its senior GM Arijit Ghosh, RI Director Raju Subramanian, PRIP Shekhar Mehta and DGE Krishnendu Gupta.

Way back in 1994, the West Bengal government gave a three-acre land to the Trust, formed by the PDGs of erstwhile RID 3290, on a long-term lease (999 years). “After the 3-H grant of $300,000 was sanctioned in 1998, we began construction of the four-storey building and completed it in 2002. The healthcare operations began in 2003. Now the 100-bed super speciality eye hospital stands on 40,000sqft of built-up space,” said PDG Angsuman Bandyopadhyay, secretary of the Trust. Around 6,000 eye surgeries are done and over 50,000 OPD patients are treated in a year at this Rotary hospital.

Very soon, the eye hospital will share space with a new 500-bed Rotary Techno Global Hospital, “as we will build a multispeciality hospital on the same land in a $50 million project. The new hospital will have 4 lakh sqft of built-up area.” While the first phase of 260-bed facility over 2 lakh sqft area will be operational in two years, the second phase with 240 beds on 2 lakh sqft will be completed by 2028.

Name change

When the hospital began its services, it was called Rotary Narayan Netralaya as it was a collaboration with Sankara Netralaya, Chennai, led by late Dr S S Badrinath, and the Narayana Health Group founded by Dr Devi Prasad Shetty in Bengaluru.

However, Sankara Netralaya built its own eye hospital in Kolkata and exited from the partnership. “Badrinath requested Shetty to continue his association with the Rotary hospital. The famed heart surgeon extended all help and services till Jan 2022, but from February that year we tied up with Techno India Group led by Satyam Roychowdhury. From then on, it was rechristened as Rotary Techno Hospital in deference to the new partner,” recalled Bandyopadhyay. “In all probability, the upcoming hospital will be the largest multi-speciality medical centre run by Rotary anywhere in the world,” he said. PRIP Mehta said, “Dr Devi Shetty has contributed immensely for the growth and development of our eye hospital.”

A Rotary Peace Pole was inaugurated by Stephanie during her visit to Rotary Sadan, the iconic three-storey building of RC Calcutta built in 1976. The 10-feet tall peace pole made up of 304 stainless steel pipes was erected at a project cost of ₹1 lakh with the aim to foster global peace and goodwill. “The sentence ‘May peace prevail on Earth’ was inscribed in different languages on the four sides of the pole, the first such monument in RID 3291, and the third one in the country, the other two poles are in Madurai and Chennai,” said Purnendu Roychowdhury, centennial president of RC Calcutta.

RIPE Stephanie rings the Rotary bell at the archive library in Rotary Sadan. Also seen are (from Left) RC Calcutta past president Purnendu Roychowdhury, DGN Ramendu Homchaudhuri, RI Director Anirudha Roychowdhury, DGE Gupta, club president Kanak Dutt and DG Hira Lal Yadav.

Inaugurated by PRIP Rajendra Saboo, the Rotary Sadan houses vocational centres for computer training, painting, and holds regular classes in classical arts like singing, dancing and musical instruments. Stephanie was guided through the archive library of RC Calcutta, the oldest club in Asia chartered in Jan 1920. She went through some of the oldest club rosters, rang the iconic bell used to signal the start of regular Rotary meetings in earlier times.

Dialysis project

A dialysis centre with 15 machines is being run by RC Calcutta Mahanagar at the Mayor’s Health Clinic owned by the Kolkata Municipal Corporation. “We set up the dialysis facility through a global grant of ₹1.25 crore four years ago in partnership with RCs Maysville, Singapore, Changi, Tucheng and TRF,” said PRIP Mehta. Every day 30 renal patients undergo dialysis for free at the facility in Chetla, a busy locality in Kolkata.

It was a humbling experience for the Rotary president-elect and her entourage at the Mother House of the Missionaries of Charity founded by Mother Teresa. She went through the picture gallery next to the main hall in which nuns congregate to meditate and recite prayers, and climbed a narrow staircase to have a peek into a small room where Mother Teresa lived from 1953 till her death in 1997; the site of Mother Teresa’s tomb gave a surreal feeling to the VIP visitor from Evanston, Chicago, and Rotary leaders from India accompanying her.


Pictures by V Muthukumaran

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