Bhubaneswar, Oct 18 (IANS) The Odisha government on Tuesday lodged two FIRs against the Institute of Medical Sciences and SUM Hospital authorities in connection with the hospital fire late on Monday evening.
The FIRs, filed by the Directorate of Medical Education & Training (DMET) and the Fire Services Department separately, allege negligence by the hospital management in taking adequate fire safety measures and ensuring safe evacuation of patients, leading to the death of 20 persons.
“We have filed an FIR with the police against the hospital management for negligence over fire safety measures, evacuation of patients and crowd management,” said Umakanta Satapathy, DMET Joint Director.
Fire Services DG Binay Behera said: “We have filed an FIR against the hospital authorities for negligence. Even though the hospital had been asked to comply with the fire safety norms in 2013, it did not follow the fire safety norms.”
The FIRs were filed with the Khandagiri police in Bhubaneswar.
According to a 2013 audit report, the SUM Hospital did not have adequate fire safety measures in place. The report found lapses in the fire safety norms followed by the hospital.
The hospital is yet to respond to the Fire Department audit.
Health Minister Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak said his department has filed the FIR and legal action would be taken against the hospital management for the negligence of procedures laid down by the department.
Nayak said they have opened a control room to monitor the treatment of injured patients.
On their part, the hospital authorities denied lack of fire safety measures.
“We have put four officials under suspension following the fire incident. They have been suspended pending inquiry. However, the suspension does not mean that they are guilty. Only a thorough inquiry would reveal the actual cause of the incident,” said Amit Banerjee, Vice Chancellor of the SUM Hospital and Medical College.
Those put under suspension for reported dereliction of duty are the fire officer, manager and two others staffers.
He said the exact reason behind the unfortunate incident will be known only after the investigation committee submits its report.
Banerjee also announced Rs 5 lakh ex-gratia to the family of each deceased.
On the orders of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to hold a Revenue Divisional Commissioner (RDC)-led inquiry, Central RDC A.B. Ota has started investigating the fire incident.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Chief Minister and the Odisha Governor separately visited various hospitals to inquire about the health of patients.
Meanwhile, the Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC) registered a suo motu case over the fire mishap and asked the Health Secretary and DG (Fire Services) to submit a report within three weeks.
A complaint has been filed with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) seeking action against the hospital authorities and state government officials for their negligence in ensuring safety measures.
Human rights activist Subash Mohapatra, who filed the petition, urged the NHRC to direct the state government to conduct an impartial inquiry into the matter and submit the report within a week.