Hyderabad: It took the death of a four-month-old infant in the fire incident at Hyderabad’s Shine Children’s Hospital to take action against the erring hospital which did not a clearance from the fire department.
An infant was killed, while four others suffered severe burn injuries when a fire broke out in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) on the fourth floor of the hospital on Monday. According to police a short circuit in a refrigerator caused the fire.
Hours after the incident, the Greater Hyderabad Municipal team issued notices to the hospital asking them to furnish necessary documents and all the NOCs (No-objection Certificates). The hospital was seized by the authorities following the incident.
The municipal authorities said the hospital was operating without any clearance from the fire department. The owner of the hospital, Sunil Kumar Reddy, was taken into custody on Tuesday.
The fire-fighting systems were not functional at the hospital and the staff wasn’t equipped to handle the situation, according to the officials from the fire department.
“It was at 2.15 am when I came to the floor to drink water and I sense some smoke. I quickly ran back upstairs where my nephew was in the NICU and saw that fire had broken out. We took our children and ran downstairs. There was no staff or doctor available for assistance,” D Sudharshan, uncle of the deceased baby, told News18.
The locals alleged that this is not the first fire incident at the hospital. Just three days before the fatal fire, a fire broke out there and the parents rushed out to safety with their children.
“I was here at the time of the fire incident and helped some of the families who were running towards the road for safety,” Naresh Kumar, a local, said.
However, the police is yet to confirm if the incident took place, as alleged by the locals. The hospital is just a stone’s throw away from the local police station.
Two months ago, a fire broke out in the post-operative pediatric ward in government-run Gandhi hospital in Hyderabad. Although no causality was reported, there was huge damage to the property. The hospital reportedly lacked safety equipment.
“If this is not negligence, then what is? Do people need to die for the authorities to wake up and swing into action? Shouldn’t’ the fire department do regular checks at hospitals to see if the norms are followed? The hospital and the municipal authorities are equally responsible,” child rights activist Achyuth Rao told News18.
Last month, the high court had warned the Municipal and Fire Department officials for turning a blind eye to irregularities in buildings, particularly hospitals. The court had said that these hospitals are ‘death traps.’
Following the incident at Shine Hospital, Telangana Health Minister Eatela Rajender has ordered for an inquiry. A committee has been set up to submit a report.
Meanwhile, IT minister KTR has asked the municipal authorities to check if all the hospitals in the city are safety-compliant. The Municipal Administration has said that from Saturday all the hospitals in the city, about 1600, would be given notices to verify all the necessary documents.
Activists allege that there could be easily more than 300 illegal health centers operating in the city.