At least 90 were charred to death and over 509 injured in a private hospital in Kolkata. A place meant to cure lives turned into a graveyard after eruption of basement fire giving toxic fumes through the centrally air-conditioned hospital causing colossal loss. This incident only puts a stamp on the abysmal condition of hospitals in West Bengal. The abrupt cancellation of the hospital’s license and further a high-level investigation into the matter has been sought. Based on the charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder apart from many other non-bailable sections, the hospital diecrtors have been arrested but it just cannot douse the fuel of people’s anger erupting at the loss of their near and dear ones. The onus lies on the state government and its administration to answer why the hospital was not equipped with the laid-down safety arrangements? Why was the basement area filled with flammable materials when it should have used as a parking lot? Why did not the hospital management pay any heed to the warning and objections registered by the police and the fire-brigade related to the misuse of the basement area? Isn’t it a height of folly that the seven-storeyed hospital which was air-conditioned but devoid of adequate fire prevention measures was ravaged by the fire outbreak? The state administration cannot dissipate its duty by merely stating that the AMRI hospital management fell short of sticking to its promise of maintaining safety measures. The statement made by the Additional Director of Fire Department is ridiculous where he cited that such larger scale of devastation could have been averted if the hospital had made proper fire safety provisions.  Why didn’t the Fire Department ensure that the hospital should stick to the prescribed fire safety norms? However, the state administration is being put in the dock for its negligence. But will the Mamata-led government understand and admit its folly leading to the death of nearly 90 people in this cruel incident.

The West Bengal government cannot pass the buck on to the Left’s long rule. It is heartening that despite few such cases of negligence and fire incidents in some hospitals in the state recently, no effort by the government was made in this regard eventually led to another mishap that took place in AMRI hospital on a larger scale. Had the state government been strict with the implementation of safety rules for the hospitals, a similar cruel incident could have been averted? Undoubtedly, private hospitals are preferred by the people for their treatment but arbitrary governance of these hospitals should also be put on record. The case at hand is not absence of fire safety measures in Kolkata hospitals but the upgradation of safety and security in public places are basically lacking.