Millennium Post

Hospital fire toll rises to 21, govt announces ex-gratia

One more person died of suffocation on Wednesday, taking the number of those killed in the fire at SUM hospital to 21 even as the Odisha government announced a solatium of Rs 5 lakh each to the families of those killed.

Janakibla Hui was shifted to AIIMS after the fire ravaged the private medical facility on Monday evening, a spokesman of AIIMS, Bhubaneswar, said.

The woman was suffering from lung cancer and undergoing treatment at Sum hospital. She was shifted to AIIMS in a critical condition.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who earlier issued directions for free treatment to the injured in different hospitals in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack, on Wednesday announced an ex-gratia before leaving for New Delhi. “The Chief Minister has announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh each to the families of the victims,” a communication from his office said.

Union Health Minister J P Nadda said the Centre will soon issue fresh advisory to all states to prevent a recurrence of such incidents anywhere in the country.

Siksha ‘O’ Anusandhan (SOA) University, which runs the Institute of Medical Sciences and Sum Hospital, had on Tuesday announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to the next of kin of those killed.

Opposition Congress demanded that Rs 25 lakh each be given to the families of the victims. “The state government should give Rs 10 lakh each and the Centre Rs 15 lakh each to them,” OPCC chief Prasad Harichandan said.

CPI National Secretary D Raja also demanded adequate compensation for the victims’ families and a high-level probe into the incident. Taking suo motu cognisance of media reports, the National Human Rights Commission on Wednesday issued a notice to the Odisha government’s Chief Secretary, asking him to submit a report about the mishap in six weeks.  The rights body asked the Chief Secretary to inform about the steps/precautions taken or proposed by the state government to prevent recurrence of such mishaps, a statement said. The Commission observed that “callous” attitude and lapses on the part of authorities, if any, amount to violation of the right to life. Nadda, who was here, held discussion with health officials and assured support to the state government for providing treatment to those injured in the fire. “I am not here for a blame game. Our priority is (providing) proper treatment to those injured in the fire at the medical facility two days ago,” he said.

Out of 568, only 3 Odisha hospitals have fire clearance 

The SUM Hospital here, where a devastating blaze on Monday claimed 21 lives, was running without fire safety clearance, Union Health Minister J P Nadda said on Wednesday, and asked the Odisha government to ensure action against those responsible for the “serious lapse”.

The Minister, who visited various hospitals to inquire about the condition of those injured, said the Centre would soon issue a fresh advisory to all states to avoid repeat of such incidents.

“The hospital did not have fire safety measures in place.

In spite of that, the hospital was running. It is a serious matter,” Nadda told reporters, terming the tragedy as “very serious, worrisome and shocking”.

Meanwhile, in a shocking claim, the National Human Rights Commission said only three of Odisha’s 568 hospitals have fire safety clearance and issued a notice to the state government over the hospital tragedy, the worst of its kind in the state. 

“In Odisha, out of 568 hospitals, only three have clearance of the department of fire safety,” the NHRC said in a statement on Wednesday and issued a notice to the Odisha Chief Secretary, seeking a report in the matter within six weeks, including on the relief and rehabilitation efforts for the next of kin of the deceased and the injured.

“We have to see that such incidents do not repeat. I will ask the officials to make more stringent provisions. I will personally see which issues need to be revisited. A fresh advisory will be given to all the states so that such incidents do not take place anywhere,” Nadda told reporters before winding up his one-day visit to the state. Though fire safety is a matter related to Home department, Health department also has a responsibility to ensure safety of patients in hospitals, he said.
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