Uddhav Thackeray orders probe in fire incident, Fadnavis says file case of culpable homicide

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday ordered an inquiry into the fire that killed 10 newborns at the Bhandara District Hospital, and promised stern action against the culprits. He also asked state officials to ensure fire audits in all hospitals across the state.

“Currently, the entire healthcare system and hospitals are fighting against the Covid-19 pandemic. But the government will not tolerate any compromise with the safety of hospitals. To ensure that such incidents are not repeated, officials have been instructed to see whether a proper fire audit has been conducted in all hospitals across the state,” said the CM.

Thackeray further announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to the parents of the 10 babies who died in the incident. The state government will also bear the treatment expenses of the seven rescued infants.

“I can understand the pain of the families who have lost their babies in this unfortunate incident. The state government shares their pain, but it is not enough. I have asked the home minister and the health minister to investigate the matter and take stern action against those responsible,” added Thackeray.

He said experts from Fire Services Engineering College and officials of the Energy department were trying to ascertain the cause of the fire. “I have given instructions to see whether the fire audit was conducted as the SNCU (Special Newborn Care Unit) in the hospital was started in 2015. We will see the details and take further action accordingly,” he added.

State Health Minister Rajesh Tope said a six-member committee headed by Health Director Dr Sadhana Tayde has been constituted to investigate the incident. “The committee will submit a report in three days. It will investigate the cause of the fire and conduct an audit of fire safety measures…,” said Tope.

Terming the incident as “very painful”, former chief minister and Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday said that a case of culpable homicide should be registered against those who are responsible for the incident.

Fadnavis, who visited the hospital premises, said the death of the babies was “heart-wrenching” and the incident had exposed serious lapses on part of the hospital administration.

“There was no provision for fire safety. In May, a proposal was put up before the Health Services Directorate and forwarded to the Health Ministry. But no decision was taken on the same. Had a timely decision been taken, the tragedy could have been avoided,” he said.

The opposition leader further demanded that a thorough investigation should be carried out in the incident. “A case of culpable homicide should be registered and strict action should be taken against those responsible for it. The safety audit of all hospitals in the state should be conducted,” Fadnavis demanded.