Friday, February 20, 2009

Nonsense of polity

Apollo Hospitals Chairman, Prathap C Reddy, says “I faced bureaucratic heat as early as the registration of Apollo Health Services. The construction of the hospital in Chennai was stalled by the state's chief minister, MGR. Refusing to pay a price for urban land clearance, I turned to then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who wrote a strong letter to MGR seeking the reason for the delay. Meanwhile, Mrs Gandhi asked Andhra Pradesh chief minister T Anjiah to set aside land for Apollo in Hyderabad. 

The bigger problem, however, was a 320% customs duty on import of medical equipment. Though Mrs Gandhi granted certain exemptions, I had to spend two days every week pushing for clearances. Hospitals at the time were ineligible for funding, but Pranab Mukherjee who was the finance minister then, allowed Apollo to borrow 50% from Indian banks and the rest as foreign currency, as a special case. It took about six months to receive clearance for an IPO. Today the Apollo group has three major projects at various stages of development. 

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