Home » NHRC notice to Maharashtra Government over Bhandara Hospital fire

NHRC notice to Maharashtra Government over Bhandara Hospital fire

by Raju Vernekar
0 comment 3 minutes read

Ten newborn babies died due to suffocation; Maharashtra Governor visits the hospital on Wednesday
By IT Correspondent
Mumbai, Jan 13:

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sent a notice to the Maharashtra government and the state police chief over the death of ten newborn babies in a fire at Bhandara district general hospital, located in Vidarbha region, seeking a detailed report on the incident within four weeks.
The Commission, while issuing the notice, observed that it is a “serious issue of violation of human rights for which the accountability of negligent officers and officials is required to be fixed, with retrospective effect”.
The fire had broken out in the Special Newborn Care Unit of the state-run hospital in the early hours on Saturday. Seven babies were rescued. While 10 babies died. The age of deceased infants ranged between less than a month and a couple of months.
The NHRC has taken suo motu cognisance of media reports that ten infants were killed in a fire that swept through the Sick Newborn Care Unit (SNCU) at Bhandara District General Hospital in Maharashtra on 09 January 2021. “The fire reportedly broke out at around 1.30 AM and the hospital administration could rescue only seven out of the seventeen children kept in the ward,” the NHRC said in a statement.
The Commission has issued notices to the state chief secretary and Director General of Police, seeking a detailed report within four weeks. The report must contain the fire audit reports of various hospitals in the state as well as measures that have been taken or contemplated to be taken by the state against the erring or negligent officers and officials so that they cannot go on with impunity, the statement said. The Commission has also observed that the babies were in the custody of a state-run hospital where they lost their lives, and “hence, the state cannot escape its responsibility.
The state police chief is also expected to inform the Commission about the outcome of the investigation being conducted by the police authorities, the rights panel said in the statement.
A relief of Rs 5 lakh has been announced by the state government from the Chief Minister’’s Fund to each bereaved family and a state-wide fire audit has also been announced. A case of accident has been reportedly registered and further investigation is being conducted.
The monetary relief alone is not sufficient to compensate. Further, it is imperative to ensure that the support systems in various hospitals in the state must provide adequate care and attention to the patients for protection of their human rights, the rights panel said.
The Special Newborn Care Unit of the four-storeyed district hospital in Bhandara district town, about 900 km from the state capital Mumbai, is a 36-bed ward.
Prima facie, the fire perhaps originated from the air-conditioner and the babies died due to suffocation caused by smoke. A committee headed by the health director will probe the incident and submit its report within three days, the NHRC statement said.
The six-member probe committee that was investigating the Bhandara Hospital Fire tragedy has pointed out that the hospital was functioning without any fire compliance since its inception in 1981. Thereafter, the PWD department had handed over the building to the Health Department without the Occupation Certificate, which is an essential document required for beginning the use of any constructed premise, the probe committee investigation revealed. Again in 2015, the hospital did not obtain the fire NOC from the Bhandara Nagar Parishad, for constructing the Sick Newborn Care Unit (SNCU), a medical store, and a nutrition rehabilitation centre, the probe committee observed.
In the meanwhile Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari visited the Bhandara Hospital and took the stock of the situation, on Wednesday. He was accompanied by Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Nana Patole and other legislators.

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