Mumbai: BMC to reinstate 130-year-old Acworth Hospital at Rs 4 crore
Mumbai: In order to protect and maintain the historical significance of a 130-year-old Acworth Hospital in Wadala, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has decided to restore the building at a cost of Rs 4 crore.
The structures inside the campus include a temple, mosque, church, and a vipassana centre (Buddhist meditation room), classified as Grade - II B heritage structures. The hospital specializes in treating leprosy patients.
As many as five construction companies have agreed to participate in the restoration of the building. At 11% cost, M/s M. Devang Construction Company decided to work on the project. The work is estimated to be completed in 8 months.
Mr. H.A.Acworth founded Acworth Leprosy Hospital on 7th November 1890 the then Municipal Commissioner of Mumbai in the midst of a leprosy outbreak during the 19th century, He established this facility, called 'Homeless Leper Asylum', in 1890. In 1904, it was renamed 'Acworth Leper Asylum'. Its name changed again in 1954 to 'Acworth Municipal Leprosy Hospital'. In accordance with the further needs, the accommodation capacity gradually increased from initial 50 to 500 patients by 1957. The hospital was built on the marshy-sloping-ridges at Wadala, then on the outskirts of the island city.
Since 1st April 1991, the hospital has been taken over by Brihanmumbai Mahanagarpalika as one of the specialized hospitals under the administrative control of the Executive Health Officer.
Fortunately, the barracks vacated by the Matunga Artillery Centre, after the Governor shifted his residence from Parel to Malabar Hill in 1885, were available for housing the Asylum.
In recognition of Acworth's efforts, the asylum was renamed Acworth Leper Asylum in 1904. The Hospital has committedly traded a long and successful path of anti-leprosy activities. Today it has achieved its objective of leprosy elimination in the city of Mumbai.
According to Sanjay Sawant, the executive engineer at the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee, the hospital building is mostly made of wood and some of the roofs are made in the old Mangalorean style. The hospital is in great need of restoration as the walls are made of old and high-quality bricks. "Our aim is to restore the glory of the historic structures on these premises," he said.
While speaking with Free Press Journal, Conservation architect Pankaj Kathole said "All the structures are about 130 years old and their condition is very delicate. They had deteriorated and no major repairs had been undertaken in several years. The wooden structures like trusses, rafters, boarding, and decorative wooden brackets were eroded and sagged over a period of time. They need to be totally restored to their earlier condition."
"The stone plinth walls and superstructure with exposed brickwork were painted several times. We will restore them by removing the layers of paint without damaging the existing structural elements."
Built in 2003, there is also a museum inside the campus. The idea of a Leprosy Museum was broached by the late Sharad S. Naik, Founder Secretary of ALH-RRE Society
Acworth Leprosy Museum is the joint project of Acworth Municipal Hospital for Leprosy and Acworth Leprosy Hospital Research Society, Wadala, Mumbai.
The Museum is the only one of its kind in India. It is dedicated to millions of leprosy sufferers throughout history, to the philanthropists and Social workers who ameliorated their sufferings, and pays tribute to those whose labours delivered remedies and other benefits to the most marginalized of human society.