BHUBANESWAR: In the aftermath of the tragic fire at Bhubaneswar's SUM Hospital, the National Human Rights Commission [NHRC] has stepped in to ask some searching questions of the Odisha state government.
Chief among them are:
1. Of the 568 hospitals in Odisha, only three have clearance from the state's Department of Fire Safety. How come?
2. Why didn't SUM Hospital -- or the Institute of Medical Sciences [IMS) and SUM Hospital and Medical College, to give its full name -- keep to safety standards although it was reportedly warned in 2013?
3. What steps/precautions have been taken or are proposed to be taken by the state government to prevent recurrence of such mishaps?
These questions, and several others, will have to be answered by the Odisha government in a report on the fire demanded by the NHRC.
Serving notice on the state government of Naveen Patnaik today, the apex rights panel said the fire that killed 21 people [Monday night (Oct. 17] is a violation of their human rights.
The commission observed that the callous attitude and lapses of the authorities, if proven, amount to a violation of the right to life of the patients.
Odisha chief secretary A P Padhi has six days to submit his report.
The NHRC took suo motu cognisance of media reports in shooting off the notices to the Odisha government.
The Naveen Patnaik government has ordered its own probe into the fire, by the Revenue Divisional Commissioner [RDC] of the Central division. It announced compensation payment of Rs 5 lakh to each bereaved family besides free medical treatment for the injured patients.
The Bhubaneshwar police yesterday arrested four persons including the superintendent of SUM Hospital following a complaint by the fire officer of central range.
The director of Medical Education and Training has filed another complaint citing negligence on the part of the hospital authorities.