Kolkata: Days after Kolkata’s AMRI hospital turned into a blazing furnace killing 93 people, questions on the safety norms followed by various hospital authorities in the state have inevitably cropped up. And in a startling revelation, a top official of the Fire Department said that only few hospitals in the metropolis, whether government or private, adhere to fire safety norms.

"No government hospital in the city has fire safety clearance," said Director General of West Bengal Fire Services Gopal Bhattacharya.
"We have been repeatedly telling the hospital authorities to stick to fire safety norms and obtain No Objection Certificate (NOC), but nothing has been done so far," added Bhattacharya.

The situation was no different in the case of private hospitals with some obtaining one time NOC and others having merely applied for them, he said.

Bhattacharya informed that the purpose of obtaining a NOC is marred if the hospital fails to stick to the fire safety norms.

Awakening from their deep slumber following the AMRI fire tragedy, the state administration has now set up a committee which would visit all government and private hospitals in the state and give their report on the fire safety measures taken by the respective hospitals.    

Main wing building license cancelled

After health officials visited the main wing of the AMRI Hospital, the state Health Department instructed the hospital to stop admitting new patients in the wing.

Earlier on Saturday, the West Bengal government remained non-committal on whether a fresh licence would be issued to the hospital management to resume operations in its annexe-I building.

The Kolkata Fire Department had found AMRI's safety system inadequate and had instructed the hospital authorities to upgrade it in July this year, but the hospital managed to renew its trade licence from the Kolkata Municipal Corporation despite violating building norms.

Meanwhile, the state Health Department has restricted the Nightingale Nursing Home from admitting any more patients. While talking to reporters Fire Service and Disaster Management Minister Javed Khan said, “According to the audit report of the nursing home, it doesn’t have a fire license. Even, it has not followed the fire safety norms while constructing its eight-storied building.” 

Preliminary report on AMRI fire submitted

A preliminary report on the fire at AMRI hospital submitted said inflammatory articles and PVC pipes were kept in the basement of the building from where the fire originated asphyxiating 93 people to death.

"Director General of Fire D P Tarania submitted a preliminary report. It said that inflammatory articles and PVC pipes were kept at the basement due to which the fire spread quickly," state Minister of Fire Services and Disaster Management Javed Khan told reporters here.

The report also mentioned that the deaths were caused due to suffocation caused by smoke and none was burnt, he said.
Disaster Management Department Secretary Indivar Pandey has deposited Rs 2.7 crore to the police for paying compensation to the families of the victims killed in the tragedy on December 9, he added.

Youths to get police jobs

Meanwhile, youths who became saviors for many in the hospital fire tragedy were rewarded by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

The CM announced that jobs would be given in the Green Police unit to the locals who had taken part in rescue operations during Friday's devastating fire at AMRI Hospital.

Giving away a medal and Rs 5,000 to each of the 65 youths, who live in the Panchanantala slum behind the AMRI Hospital premises, Banerjee said, “We have decided to offer them jobs as Green Police if they want.”

Addressing at the police felicitation ceremony, Mamata said, “No price money would be equal to the bravery that the youths have shown. But honouring their bravery, the government has decided to offer then civil police jobs.”

Mamata also congratulated the Kolkata Police commandos and disaster management group personnel for rescuing a number of patients from the hospital.

The civic police volunteers, known as Green Police, assist the Kolkata Traffic Police in traffic management.

(JPN/ Bureau)