The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) initiated a fire safety audit of 72 Covid-19 designated hospitals in the city soon after a major fire at Shrey hospital in Ahmedabad early Thursday morning claimed eight lives. The hospital did not have a fire NOC.
After the incident, the AMC constituted a committee headed by Officer on Special Duty (OSD) Dr Manish Kumar, who is responsible for requisitioning and monitoring of all private hospitals in Ahmedabad city, and chief fire officer M F Dastur to visit and re-inspect all Covid hospitals in the city.
The team conducted the audit of nearly 20 Covid-designated hospitals out of 72 of which many were found lacking fire safety NOC. “While a few NOCs have expired, some have not applied for renewal, others failed to provide one,” revealed an AMC official. The committee has been asked to complete the audit of all 72 hospitals by Friday.
Sources in the AMC further revealed that out of nearly 2,000 private hospitals and nursing homes in the city, less than 100 have valid fire safety NOC.
The 22-year-old Shrey hospital, designated a coronavirus facility on May 16, had no fire clearance, Ahmedabad Fire and Emergency Services Chief Fire Officer M F Dastur said. The fire NOC has to be renewed every year.
Hospital director Bharat Mahant, however, refuted the claim and told this paper, “Since 1998 when the hospital came into existence, we have been regularly applying and abiding by NOC norms. We have never dropped its validity.”
In addition to the C-Form issued by the AMC that registers private hospitals with the civic body, private hospitals are governed by the Gujarat Development Control Regulations (GDCR) and Gujarat Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Regulations. The C-Form is issued only if the hospital submits the fire safety NOC.
When asked about the fire safety NOC, Rajiv Kumar Gupta, additional chief secretary (ACS), forests and environment department, who is overseeing the Covid management in Ahmedabad, said, “These are some of the minor details which will be checked by the committee constituted by the Chief Minister under ACS (home) Sangeeta Singh and ACS (Urban Development) Mukesh Puri.”
On the allegations by the opposition, AMC in an official statement stated that there was no discrepancy or corruption behind this incident and if this is revealed in the investigations then strict action will be taken against all accused. “All necessary action will be taken against all those responsible for this incident,” it further added.
The Ahmedabad Hospital and Nursing Homes Association (AHNA) too initiated a fire safety audit drive for all its 400 registered members. “We are encouraging all hospitals to undertake fire audits. Agencies for the audit will be hired by AHNA to conduct these audits,” Dr Bharat Gadhavi, AHNA president. said.
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