The crime branch of Mira-Bhayander Vasai-Virar police early Sunday arrested the Chief Executive Office and Chief Administrative Officer of Vijay Vallabh Hospital, where a major fire due to a faulty air-conditioning unit killed 15 Covid-19 patients in the ICU on Friday. The police said that the two arrested doctors are owners and looked after the management of the hospital.
According to police officials, they were arrested at 1.52 am on Sunday. They were identified as Dr Dilip Bastimal Shah (56) and Dr Shailesh Dharamdev Pathak (47), the CEO and CAO of the hospital, respectively.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Mahesh Patil said, “The two were arrested as the hospital, which managed to procure an occupancy certificate in 2014, failed to get a fire audit done. They did not have a valid no objection certificate (NOC) from the fire department since March 2021.”
The two were arrested as they were solely responsible for the management of the hospital, the police added.
Shah and Pathak were produced in Vasai court on Sunday afternoon and remanded in police custody for one day.
The police in their investigations have learnt that the fire started at 2.35 am on Friday.
“The fire was caused due to the faulty air conditioning unit. Electric sparks started leaking from the unit and as there were ventilators in the ICU, the blast was triggered by oxygen supply in the room and the fire spread across the ICU and gutted the whole ward,” said Patil.
Officials said that so far 15 people who were infected with Covid and admitted in the ICU died in the fire tragedy. Two survived with injuries. The officials said that there were 85 patients in the hospital, which had been converted into a dedicated Covid facility earlier this year.
The investigators said that the necessary precautions and safeguards to prevent a fire like situation were not taken by the hospital. An officer said they were checking whether there was negligence on the part of any other hospital staffers.
Patil added, “We are awaiting reports from the electrical officer and the fire department. We have also called the Director of Fire Services to inspect the tragedy.”
Crime branch officials said they are also checking whether there was any other problem with the maintenance or installation of the apparatus because during the inquiry the police learnt that there was a problem with the wiring of the equipment.
Soon after the incident on morning, the Arnala Police registered a case under Sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others), 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Panel Code against the staff, management and a doctor, following which the investigation was handed over to the crime branch unit II of Mira-Bhayander Vasai-Virar police jurisdiction.