May 25, 2021 12:30:16 am
An affidavit filed before the Gujarat High Court on May 19 by the administrator of a Bharuch hospital, where a fire earlier this month had killed 18 people, revealed that 14 of them were killed due to the fire, while four others “were only secondary victims of the incident but did not perish in the fire”.
For the four “secondary victims”, as per the affidavit, oxygen supply had to be stopped when the fire broke out and due to the disruption in oxygen supply, the four patients died “as they were being shifted to other facilities.”
Patel Welfare Hospital was running a Covid-19 facility from a building on its campus which did not have a fire NoC. As per administrator Ajaz Patel’s affidavit submissions, while the initial operations of the facility was carried out at an older building for which the hospital had a valid fire NoC, “due to proximity of the facility to the main hospital complex, …hospital staff including doctors, nurses not providing services at the Covid care facility were also getting infected and therefore then (Bombay Welfare Trust) president Mr Salim Patel decided to establish a separate Covid care facility on the same campus but in a separate building on ground floor.” Salim succumbed to Covid-19, as per the affidavit.
Operations at the new Covid facility started in November 2020 and as per Ajaz, following a fire safety audit and electrical department inspection, it was recommended to install fire safety alarm system, among other such recommendations, “…but no vendor was ready to install the same in a functioning Covid-19 ward,” the affidavit submitted.
The administrator has further said that the hospital fearing criminal prosecution from district authorities following emergency requisition upon onset of the second wave surge in cases, had “to start the Covid-19 unit under compulsion in the new facility,” which did not have fire safety systems in place.
Bharuch police on May 22 arrested seven people, including the president and the trustees of the welfare hospital. All were granted bail the same day. Police had arrested two trustees on May 15 and they were also released on bail.
Assistant superintendent of police Vikas Sunda had registered an offence against the trustees of the hospital with Bharuch B, Division police station, on May 13 under IPC sections 304 (a) (causing death by negligence), 336 (endangering life or personal safety of others), 337 (causing hurt by act, endangering life or personal safety of others) and 114 (abettor present when offence is committed).
Acting on the complaint, Bharuch police on May 22 arrested seven trustees of the hospital. They were released on bail.
In another affidavit filed by Bharuch municipality chief officer Sanjay Soni on May 18, it was submitted that in a fire inspection exercise conducted on April 30, 2020, “in charge officer of the hospital (had) shown the fire equipment and NOC of old hospital (building) only and did not disclose the fact that they created additional facility for Covid-19 patients in the new building.” A division bench of the Gujarat High Court is expected to take up the matter for further hearing on May 25.
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