Shrey Hospital where eight Covid-19 patients died in a fire on Thursday was largely permitted for residential use before it started operations as a health facility in 1999, and illegal constrictions were also made which were regulated only in 2016, The Indian Express has learnt.
Deputy estate officer of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation’s west zone Chaitanya Shah, from the estate, town development department, said that while the building’s original ownership was under one Panchratna Apartments Owners’ Association, it was then signed off to Bharat Mahant and other proprietors of Shrey Hospital in a lease agreement in 1999.
“Initially, the building’s ground and part of the first floor were permitted for commercial use specified for shops and offices and the remaining floors for residential use. Subsequently, additional illegal constructions were made which they sought to regularise for the first time in 2001.”
In 2011, Gujarat brought in the Gujarat Regularisation of Unauthorised Development (Impact Fee for regularisation of illegal properties) Act (GRUDA) wherein apart from the plan submitted and approved for building use (BU) permit, any addition or alteration could be legalised via paying a fee, calculated on the basis of area. The addition or alteration would be those permissible under General Development Control Regulation (GDCR) norms.
Once this Act came into effect, Shah said that an application was moved in 2013 by the hospital to regularise the additional constructions in the building. “These included parking in the basement, parking on the ground floor and part of the fourth floor on the backside of the building, which was categorised as residential use. All these were regularised in 2016 under GRUDA,” said Shah.
Two days after the fire incident, the case remained that of an accidental death by fire under CrPC 174 at the Navrangpura police station, as the police await various reports, including building plan and the estate and town development department’s report, to file an FIR.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Gujarat Director General of Police Ashish Bhatia said on Saturday, “The case is being investigated and we are waiting for building plan of the hospital and reports from the health department, fire department and Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL). The statements of parties involved have been taken and once the reports are in, we will decide whether we have to lodge an FIR if any criminal negligence is found,” said Bhatia.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Ravindra Patel said, “We are waiting for FSL report on whether any inflammable substance was present and other aspects. We have also called for an assessment from the electrical department of AMC, who in turn will check with the electricity distributors.”
Patel also said that the process of recording statement of Bharat Mahant, one of the six directors of the company, is in process. None of the other directors have been interrogated yet, according to Patel.
The fire is believed to have started from a short circuit, and caught on to the hair of a patient and thus spread. Five men and three women in the age range of 42-82 years died in the fire. The 50-bed hospital had 49 Covid-19 patients, and had been designated in May as a Covid-19 hospital. The remaining 41 patients have been shifted to the AMC-run SVP hospital on Ashram Road.
With Inputs From Vaibhav Jha
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