Issuing a notice to Odisha Government after a major fire at a private hospital left 21 dead, the National Human Rights Commission today said that only three of state's 568 hospitals have fire safety clearance.
The Commission has taken suo motu cognisance of media reports that at least 21 persons died and more than 100 others were injured in the blaze that broke out at the SUM Hospital and Medical College on Monday evening.
"In Odisha, out of 568 hospitals, only three have clearance of the department of fire safety," the NHRC said in a statement today.
The Commission has issued the notice to the Odisha government's Chief Secretary and sought a report in the matter within six weeks, including on the relief and rehabilitation efforts for the next of kin of the deceased and the injured, an NHRC official said.
"He has also been asked to inform about the steps or precautions taken or proposed to be taken by the state government to prevent recurrence of such mishaps," the official said.
The Commission has observed that "callous attitude" and "lapses of the authorities", if any, amount to violation of right to life of the patients, and expressed shock as to how the state authorities "allowed" such a large number of hospitals to function without proper fire safety clearance.
The NHRC has also observed that reportedly the hospital in question was warned as early as in 2013 for not having adequate safety measures but the hospital authorities "ignored" it.
Meanwhile, Union Health Minister J P Nadda today said that the SUM was running without fire safety clearance and asked the Odisha government to ensure action against those responsible for the "serious lapse".
"The hospital did not have fire safety measures in place. In spite of that, the hospital was running. It is a serious matter," Nadda told reporters, terming the tragedy as "very serious, worrisome and shocking".
The Director General of Fire Service in Odisha Binay had Behera yesterday submitted a report to the state government on the fire that reportedly started in the Operation Theatre of the Dialysis Ward and spread to ICU and nearby wards.
Behera has mentioned in the report that fire safety norms as per the 2013 guidelines were not followed by the hospital authorities, a government official said.
"40 patients in a critical condition were admitted to different hospitals," the statement said.
Detecting serious lapses in safety measures, Union Health Minister J P Nadda, who inspected the fire-ravaged hospital, today said all those responsible for the incident should be punished.
The state government has ordered a high-level probe bythe Director, Medical Education and Training, into the incident.