TWO DAYS after a fire in the intensive care unit (ICU) of Uday Shivanand Covid Hospital in Rajkot left five patients dead, the police have booked the chairman of the private company that runs the facility, his son and three doctors for causing deaths due to negligence by not adhering to fires safety norms.
Manoharsinh Jadeja, the Deputy Commissioner of Police (zone-II) of Rajkot city, said an offence under IPC Sections 304A (causing deaths by negligence) and 114 (common intent) was registered at Malaviyanagar police station against Gokul Life Care Private Limited (GLCPL) chairman Dr Prakash Modha, son Vishal Modha, and Dr Tejas Karamta, Dr Tejas Motivaras and Dr Digvijaysinh Jadeja, all involved in the operations of Uday Shivanand Covid Hospital.
The chairman of GLCPL, a private firm, runs a chain of hospitals under the brand name Gokul and also manages the Uday Shivanand Covid Hospital near Ananda Bungalow Chowk in Mavdi area of Rajkot. His son, Vishal, was involved in obtaining approval for the Covid hospital from the Rajkot Municipal Corporation.
“The main negligence, which is also mentioned in the FIR, was a blocked emergency exit in the ICU. Due to the blockade, the emergency exit couldn’t be used after the fire broke out in the ICU. There was no adequate ventilation system in the unit and, in fact, one of the five patients died due to asphyxiation… The 57-bed hospital has only one entry and exit and that, too, is only one-metre wide against the National Building Code requirement of a two-metre wide gate for ICU. Prima facie it was found that the staff was not trained in firefighting,” Jadeja said at a press conference on Sunday.
The DCP added the hospital didn’t have any emergency evacuation plan nor did it have an automatic sprinkler system. “In all, we have found negligence on 10 counts and are questioning all the five accused,” Jadeja added.
The DCP said three members of Dr Modha’s family are directors in GLCPL.
Jadeja said they had questioned two trustees of Shivanand Mission, an NGO which owns the building out of which the Uday Covid Hospital was functioning, and their role in the incident was not established during the primary investigation. He said the police were still investigating why the fire broke out.
The fire, which started at 12.22 am on Friday, had engulfed the entire ICU within seconds, the officer said, leaving five patients — Nitin Badani (61), a resident of Morbi town, Ramshi Loh (62), a resident of Jasdan town in Rajkot district, Rasiklal Agrawat, a resident of Shapar-Veraval in Rajkot district, Sanjay Rathod (57), a resident of Prahlad plot area of Rajkot city, and Keshubhai Akbari (50) from New Shakti Society, Rajkot — dead.
Jadeja said post mortem reports have stated that Akbari had died due asphyxiation while the others had died due to burn injuries.
Rajkot Police Commissioner Manoj Agarwal had set up a special investigation team (SIT) to supervise the probe in the incident. The SIT was headed by the DCP.
Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has also instituted a high-level probe by Additional Chief Secretary AK Rakesh and a judicial enquiry by Justice (retired) KA Puj of Gujarat High Court.
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