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Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Bhopal hospital did not have fire NOC, say top officials

NCPCR has taken suo moto cognisance of the incident and asked the Madhya Pradesh government to constitute an inquiry into the circumstances leading to the deaths.

Written by Iram Siddique | Bhopal |
Updated: November 10, 2021 1:09:30 am
Bhopal fireThe fire started on the third floor of the hospital building, which houses the ICU. (File photo)

Kamla Nehru Hospital in Bhopal, where a fire in the neonatal care unit left four infants dead on Monday night, had not procured, or even applied for, a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Fire Department since it began operations back in 2002, top officials said on Tuesday.

Bhopal Municipal Commissioner K V S Choudhary and Fire Officer Rameshwar Neel confirmed to The Indian Express that the hospital authorities did not apply for a fire NOC.

The hospital building was constructed by the Capital Project Administration (CPA), a state government wing under the Urban Development Department. The work began in 1995 and was completed in 2000.

Stating that they received a fire call at 8.30 pm and fire tenders reached the spot at 8.45 pm, Fire Officer Rameshwar Neel told The Indian Express, “Whatever little fire-fighting equipment was present in the building was dysfunctional…the hospital had not applied for any fire NOC.”

Municipal Commissioner Choudhary said, “We regularly write to all establishments — government and private — to get a fire audit done through experts. A fire NOC is granted on the basis of this audit report. Several letters were issued to establishments across Bhopal following the fire reported in Surat. But in this case, the hospital has not applied for any NOC.”

Choudhary said BMC does not conduct fire audits and also lacks any penalising powers.

Neel pointed out that fire broke out in the main electrical unit of the neonatal ward and soon spread to the electronic equipment.

“The fire could have been confined and doused, and would not have spread to this extent, if the staff or those present acted in time to separate the affected machines,” he said.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has ordered an inquiry into the blaze and also asked for fire inspection to be carried out in all government and private hospitals. The inquiry is being conducted by Additional Chief Secretary (Health) Mohammad Suleman.

The role and responsibility of the hospital administration, as well as CPA, in conducting the fire audit is being looked into, it was informed.

Stating that the inquiry report will be out soon, MP’s Medical Education Minister Vishwas Sarang said all those responsible will be punished.

Suleman told The Indian Express: “We are working on war-footing to fix the unit, as this is the only government-run neonatal unit in Bhopal. The inquiry is not yet complete; we are ascertaining facts and responsibility will be fixed subsequently.”

According to officials, the upkeep and maintenance of the hospital is the CPA’s responsibility, but details such as whether its roles also included ensuring a fire safety certification, or regarding rules when the Kamla Nehru Hospital building was constructed, are being looked into, officials said.

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