A hospital in Bhopal where four newborn babies died in a fire on Monday night did not have the mandatory fire safety clearance, a civic body official said, NDTV reported on Wednesday. The fire broke out on the third floor of the hospital, where the intensive care unit is located, around 9 pm.
Bhopal Municipal Corporation’s Fire Services Chief KS Parihar said that the Kamala Nehru Hospital had been served notices five times in the past six months, but it failed to get a fire safety no-objection certificate.
“There are 500 to 600 big and small medical facilities in Bhopal that have been served notices for fire safety NOC [no-objection certificate] in past six months,” Parihar told the channel.
He said that the Kamala Nehru Hospital, as well as the other facilities that have been served notices, had never applied for the clearance.
Parihar said that firefighters reached the hospital within 15 minutes of getting the information, and put out the blaze in an hour. “But the fire safety equipment installed at the hospital was outdated and not working,” he claimed.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Tuesday announced a high-level investigation into the incident and said that Additional Chief Secretary (public health and medical education) Mohammad Suleiman will conduct it.
Chouhan also sought a report from officials about fire safety audits. “Government and private hospitals will undergo fire safety audits again,” he added.
Meanwhile, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights on Tuesday wrote to the chief secretaries of all states and Union Territories seeking fire safety audits of all medical facilities for children, The Hindu reported. It has asked states and Union Territories to file a district-wise compliance report within 30 days.
The panel has also asked Madhya Pradesh Chief Secretary Iqbal Singh Bains to provide information about the last no-objection and audit of the hospital.
Meanwhile, Chouhan told state ministers and government officials that the fire occurred due to “criminal negligence” and that the guilty will not be spared.
“It was our [government’s] responsibility to save these children as they were under our protection,” he said, according to The Hindu.