Bollywood veterans like Waheeda Rehman, Javed Akhtar, Shabana Azmi, Sharmila Tagore, Om Puri, along with pop singer Usha Uthup were present at the special fund raising initiative on Saturday evening, organised by the Tata Medical Center and Taj Bengal.
The proceeds of the fundraiser will go towards supporting under-privileged cancer patients.
Geeta Gopalakhishnan, who is the director of Donor Relationships of Tata Medical Center, was also present.
Sharing his views about the noble cause, poet, lyricist and scriptwriter Javed Akhtar said, "There are doctors in the country and hospitals too. Thus getting good facilities and good treatment is not difficult for the privileged people. The main problem is faced by the underprivileged people."
"Health issues of common people or the poor people was never the concern of the mass. The gap is thus huge between the privileged and the underprivileged. However the society is also filled with some responsible people. Whatever we are going is just a part of such a noble cause," Akhtar said.
He added, "Cancer is on increase due to the unhealthy atmosphere around us. It is more difficult to control it. Thus we all should try and give the city a new life."
Veteran actress Sharmila Tagore said, "Cancer is a horrible disease. The machine of chemotherapy costs Rs 17 crores. And just one treatment costs Rs. 80,000. The whole treatment is so expensive."
She said, "This hospital is such a place, where the doctors are taking the actual cost from those who can afford the cost and are helping the underprivileged ones. People who are suffering from cancer are already in debt."
"Whatever Tata is doing is really great and we are really grateful to them that they included us. I am very happy that they have decided to locate the hospital in Kolkata," Tagore said.
Actor Om Puri said, "We are very happy that Geeta chose us for this noble cause. I am very happy to be a part of this cause."
Veteran actress Waheeda Rahman said, "I am very happy to be a part of this programme. I will try to help them as much as I can. It's a very noble cause and I want every people of the country to be aware of this disease."
Actress Shabana Azmi said: "Cancer need not necessarily lead to death."
Azmi said, "Tata's are known for their quality. I have been working with the under privileged for a long time, especially with women and it is a fact that any kind of disease is the fastest way to poverty."
"For the poor people the health facilities are out of reach. It is a good news that now Cancer has a treatment but at the same time, the cost for the treatment is huge. I am here personally because I have never seen a person like Geeta Gopalakrishnan who had shown such interests for the Cancer patients," she added.
Popular Indian pop, jazz and playback singer Usha Uthup said, "I am so happy to be here in Kolkata. As citizens it is always our responsibility to improve the nation. I feel very lucky to be a part of this fund raising programme."
She ended her speech by saying, "Kolkata, Kolkata. Dont worry Kolkata."
Speaking on the occasion, Geeta Gopalakrishnan said, "We are working towards creating a corpus for the urgent expansion of the hospital as well as treatment of the under-privileged patients currently in the Center."
"We are thankful to everyone who have come forward to support the cause, from actor Shahrukh Khan to Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw CMD-Biocon, from a clerk in a Kochi government office to renowned investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala who has pledged a crore every year, including the caring citizens of Kolkata," Gopalakrishnan added.
The director of Tata Medical Centre, Mammen Chandy said, "We have approached many corporate sector people. 'Indian Oil' sector have given us Rs 66 crores for the Phase 2 expansion. We have approached 'Coal India' to give us Rs 41 crores for a place for poor people to stay when they come for treatment in 'Premasraya'."
"We have already started the building and it has already reached 6th floor, which is very near to the main hospital. We are planning to house 400 people while they are in treatment," Chandy said.
Commenting on their further plans he said, "We are also planning a research centre which will be a Rs 60 crore project. The Tata's' have already invested Rs 350 crores in the Phase 1. We need Rs 200 crores for Phase 2."
He added, "In Phase 2 we want to put 350 beds and 3 linear oscillators. Presently we have 47 beds for poor people where cost is heavily subsidised."
Chandy further informed, "The Research Centre is called, The Tata Transitional Cancer Research Centre. We want to do basic research on Cancer. We want to start a bio bank where we will freeze down Cancer tissues so that they are available for research."
'And we are planning on a multicentre trial for the children treating for Leukemia. We are planning to have 20 scientists here," he said.
"The total collection that Geeta Gopalakhrishanan alone has donated apart from the corporate collections is around Rs 30 crores," he added.
"Our chief minister, Mamata Banerjee has visited our site and she is quite impressed with our project. They are as supportive as they can be" he said.
--IBNS (Posted on 26-08-2013)