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Mumbai: Tope says Virar fire incident ‘not national news’, later clarifies

Fadnavis said that every time an incident of this nature takes place, the state government promises to streamline the lapses, “but within few days, it is forgotten”.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
Updated: April 23, 2021 11:33:35 pm
Maharahstra: Tope says Virar fire incident ‘not national news’, later clarifiesPolice personnel gathered outside the hospital where the fire broke out on Friday. (Express Photo by Deepak Joshi)

Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Friday said the fire incident at a private hospital in Virar, which killed 14 COVID-19 patients, was “not a national news”.

After a backlash on social media and from Opposition parties over the remark, Tope clarified that he was speaking to reporters about the issues he would be discussing with Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he was suddenly asked a question about the Virar fire incident, to which he had responded.

“We will be speaking about oxygen, remdesivir… the Virar incident though is not a national news,” Tope told reporters.

Later in the day, Tope put out an appeal that his comments on the Virar tragedy should not be distorted and taken out of context.

“I was asked about what topics I would be discussing with PM Narendra Modi. It was already decided that oxygen supply, remdesivir and vaccine availability will be the topics of discussion from the state side. As I was completing my answer, I was interrupted by the question related to the Virar fire tragedy,” he said.

“The Maharastra government has taken all the necessary decisions regarding the incident, including announcement of inquiry, hence I was explaining this part. Everyone has seen my work, even when there were some personal losses, I never shied away from my duty,” he said.

He added that the municipal corporation and state government would give Rs 5 lakh each to the families of victims. He also said there will be fire audit as well as structural and electrical audits of the hospital.

“If the audits were not conducted properly, the implementing persons will face strict action. We will seek an in-depth report on the incident in 10 days. Those responsible will definitely face legal action,” he said.

Meanwhile, Opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis demanded that the state government order a time-bound fire audit in all hospitals, Covid-19 centres and other medical facilities to avert recurring fire incidents leading to human tragedies.

“The loss is very shocking. On one hand, there is fear and hardships due to the pandemic. And when mishaps take place in hospitals where people come with the hope to see their loved ones getting treated, it is extremely traumatic,” the former CM said, adding that such instances make people lose their faith in the system.

Fadnavis said that every time an incident of this nature takes place, the state government promises to streamline the lapses, “but within few days, it is forgotten”.

“The state government should order a thorough fire audit to ensure such incidents don’t take place again,” he said.

Invoking recent hospital tragedies such as the Bhandara hospital fire in January and Nashik oxygen leak on Wednesday, the BJP leader said, “These incidents are unpardonable. The government must ensure that additional skilled manpower is placed everywhere to ensure flawless maintenance of medical infrastructure.”

Training guns on the MVA government, Fadnavis said the three-party coalition has set a trend of publicly criticizing the Centre for everything that goes wrong in the state. “Instead of accepting their own failures, it has found an easy way to point fingers at the Centre and cover up its own faults,” he said.

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