KOLKATA: It’s been three weeks since the horrific fire at the super-specialty AMRI Hospital turned into a gas chamber, brutally choking 93 people, most of them patients. Kolkata and its administrators once again rudely woke up to the ugly unpreparedness of residences, hospitals and offices to fight fire. A massive stocktaking operation was started by the civic authority as well as the fire department.
A team of fire, municipal and police personnel dropped into reputed hospitals to check the fire safety measures. Alarmingly, whether it was Woodlands Nursing Home or Fortis Hospital & Kidney Institute or Mercy Hospital, almost all had inadequate fire safety provisions. What was worse, almost 70 per cent of the city’s top hospitals were operating with provisional no objection certificates. “Many have failed to implement active and passive safety measures,” said Fire Services ADG Debapriya Biswas after the first safety audit. The AMRI fire has made Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee even wonder if the existing rules are enough to prevent such future catastrophes.
A panel, headed by Chief Secretary Samar Ghosh, is mulling bringing about changes to current rules which would make fire safety measures more stringent.
According to police sources, Shrachi Group chairman S K Todi and AMRI director D M Agarwal were directly involved in the daily management of the hospital. The seven directors, including Todi and Emami Group chairman R S Goenka, who were arrested hours after the incident on December 9, were denied bail and are to remain in jail till January 5. R S Agarwal, however, still remains in government-run SSKM Hospital suffering from unstable angina. SSKM’s medical report has stated that Agarwal’s condition is stable and he doesn’t need to stay in the hospital as long as his medicines are administered properly. On January 2, the defence will plead with the court to take him into police custody.
Two more of the senior medical staff, S Upadhyay and Sanjib Pal, have also been arrested and interrogated. However, three directors, Rahul Todi, Aditya Agarwal and Preeti Sureka, are absconding. Police sources say that Rahul Todi had been in Asansol before fleeing the state and has recently returned. Aditya Agarwal is believed to be in Ahmedabad and Sureka in Bhubaneswar. While efforts are being made to arrest and bring them in for further questioning, the trio has gone underground with even close business and family associates claiming to be clueless about their whereabouts.