National News

Odisha hospital fire: Human rights commission issues notice to state government

After visiting the facility in Bhubaneshwar, Health Minister JP Nadda said there were a number of safety issues that needed to be addressed.

The National Human Rights Commission on Wednesday issued a notice to the Odisha government in connection with Monday's fire at SUM Hospital in Bhubaneshwar, India Today reported. The toll in the blaze rose to 21, and 100 others were injured in the flames, which is believed to have started after a short circuit in the facility's dialysis unit.

The NHRC expressed its shock at the state government and its officials allowing a large number of hospitals to function without proper fire safety clearances. It said any lapse by authorities would amount to a violation of the right to life of the patients. The commission sought a report from state officials within six weeks on the steps taken to prevent such accidents, as well as the details of the relief and rehabilitation provided to the relatives of those who died because of the fire.

Moreover, Union Health Minister JP Nadda on Wednesday said the state administration needed to address a number of safety issues at the hospital. "Our priority is to ensure proper treatment of patients who were affected because of the fire," the minister said after visiting the facility. He also assured the Odisha government of all necessary support for treatment of those injured, The Indian Express reported.

Meanwhile, a protest was held outside the hospital to demand Rs 15 lakh compensation as well as jobs for the relatives of the victims of the incident. The Odisha government had announced compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to the kin of those killed in the fire.

At least 40 patients were reportedly present in the dialysis ward when the fire broke out. Carbon monoxide fumes spread through the air conditioner ducts of the hospital, causing many of the victims, who were on oxygen support, to suffocate. The flames were doused about three hours after the fire broke out. On Tuesday, a police case was filed against the facility, and investigators had arrested four hospital officials. SUM Hospital is owned by Manoj Nayak, a businessperson with ventures in education, television channels and newspapers.

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