MUMBAI: Parents of a week-old twin girl who died four days after a blaze ravaged state-run ESIC hospital here last week alleged on Wednesday the authorities slashed the Rs 10 lakh compensation payable to them to Rs 2 lakh, saying "the premature baby was anyway going to die naturally".
A hospital official said they had issued two cheques each of Rs 2 lakh as payout, apparently for the deceased girl and her infant brother who was also injured in the incident.
The fire occurred on December 17 in the ESIC hospital located at Marol in suburban Andheri in which 11 people died.
Union Labour Ministry had announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh each for the next of the kin of the deceased and Rs 2 lakh to each of the seriously injured persons.
About 175 people were injured in the blaze. Lalita Logavi, the mother of the deceased girl, alleged the hospital authorities denied them full compensation of Rs 10 lakh, saying "the premature baby was anyway going to die naturally".
Lalita had delivered twins, a boy and a girl, three days before the fire mishap. Her son is doing fine, she said.
Lalita claimed her daughter, whom the couple had not even named, might have died while being shifted to Holy Spirit Hospital when the blaze swept through the ESIC Hospital Monday.
"She was taken away from the ventilator support in the ESIC Hospital during fire and was being shifted to the Holy Spirit hospital. She might have died because of interruption in ventilatory support coupled with smoke inhalation", she said.
The baby girl died in Holy Spirit hospital four days after admission. "ESIC hospital authorities said that chances of survival of my daughter were very less as she was a premature baby. They said she was going to die naturally (and) not due to burn injuries", Lalita told PTI while fighting back her tears.
Any monetary compensation is not going to bring back my daughter, but refusing us the full compensation is like rubbing salt on our wounds, Lalita said, adding that she and her husband would fight against this "injustice".
Meanwhile, a hospital official said they had issued two cheques of Rs 2 lakh each to the Logavis.
This effectively means that the hospital authorities are counting the deceased girl as a seriously injured victim of the fire. Another cheque is meant for her infant brother.
ESIC Additional Commissioner S K Sinha did not respond to the calls and message. Lalita said she would not realise the cheque given in the name of her daughter.
"We will honour the cheque of Rs two lakh issued in the name of my son, but not the other cheque", she said. Meanwhile, North East Mumbai MP Kirit Somaiya claimed that the ESIC has agreed to issue the balance compensation at the earliest."
As a chairman of a parliament committee in Labour Ministry which controls ESIC, I took up this issue and spoke with the officials concerned.
ESIC has agreed to issue the balance compensation at the earliest," he told PTI after meeting the parents of the deceased girl.
"We are sad about the ESIC hospital Mumbai fire incident & the death of newborn baby girl due to fire in ESIC hospital. I discussed issue of compensation with Minister and officials of ESIC. They are releasing the balance of Rs.8 lakh immediately to victim's family," Somaiya tweeted.