The patients and those accompanying them often struggle to find accommodation. Even if they do manage to find accommodation, they are forced to shell out exorbitant amounts since there are very few affordable hotels or housing units in the area.
Housing department officials said that each flat measures 350sqft to 400sqft and costs around Rs 1 crore in the open market.
Housing minister Jitendra Awhad said the flats would be handed over by Mhada.
“This will be done in a phased manner. We are yet to have a discussion on this with the Tata Memorial Hospital authorities, but we will have an agreement with them. They will manage the booking of the flats and the maintenance. We will hand over some flats in the next month. This will prevent patients from sleeping on pavements and spending money on private hotels,” Awhad said.
Officials said that most of the flats were in areas like Parel, Lalbaug, Kalachowki, Byculla and Sewri in Central Mumbai.
“We will reach out to the hospital management and hand over the flats in a phased manner. The hospital will decide on the allotment based on the patient’s condition, hospitalisation period and other medical criterion,” Awhad said.
In January 2020, several patients and relatives were moved from under the Hindmata flyover in Parel. With no affordable accommodation available, all kinds of patients, including women who had been operated for breast cancer, men who had undergone surgery for oral cancer, beneficiaries of bone marrow transplants, and some waiting to be operated for cervical cancer, were living under the flyover.
Many patients cannot go home since they come from other states. There are followups scheduled every week or every fortnight and so they have to stay back in Mumbai. Travelling home and returning for follow-ups is impossible. They are so poor that they cannot pay Rs 100 a day that a few dharmashalas charge for a room.
There is a long waiting list for free accommodation, some of it arranged by the hospital and some by charitable organisations.
Tata Memorial Hospital is one of the largest cancer treatment institutes in India and receives 65,000 new cancer patients every year. Another 4,50,000 cancer patients arrive for follow-ups every year.
The city currently has five dharmashalas that provide accommodation to patients of cancer coming here for treatment all through the year.