Raging inferno at Kamala Nehru Hospital in Bhopal: Who will book the real culprits

Lalit Shastri

The raging inferno that engulfed the new-born care unit at Bhopal’s Kamala Nehru Hospital on Monday night (8 November 2021) has extinguished many lives. The parents and the families of the babies who were charred to death have been devastated. No amount of condolence messages or ex-gratia relief from the government’s side will deliver them justice or fill the void that’s been created by those who had abdicated their responsibility at the top echelon of the government and whose job it was to ensure the field authorities were held accountable for not conducting the fire audit even once and operating a hospital facility. The tragedy is everyone is talking of fire audit now after many parents have lost their new-born babies. It is a travesty of circumstances that the government needed such a disastrous fire incident to shake up it’s sensibilities. 

After the fire incident at the Kamala Nehru Hospital, the government has removed Jiten Shukla, Dean Gandhi Medical College, Dr. Lokendra Dave Superintendent of Hamidia Hospital, and Dr KK Dubey, Director of Kamala Nehru Hospital from their posts. Deputy Engineer, CPA Electrical Wing Awadhesh Bhadauria has been suspended.

Question arises what about the senior officers at the top supervisory level, who are supposed to regularly conduct inspections, and write the confidential reports of the officers at the cutting edge on the basis of their performance? The buck should stop at their level and more heads should roll. What about those occupying positions of power in the State Secretariat and the Medical and Health Administration, whose job it was to ensure the law, standard rules and procedures were not being compromised? What about the enforcement of the Building Bye-Laws that are legal tools and are mandatory in nature and serve to protect buildings against fire and other hazards. Was there corruption in procurement and purchase of building material and what about the standard and quality of material used for electricity and other fittings – especially MCBs (miniature circuit breakers) that often lead to short circuits if they are of poor quality? Also- what about the current status of other hospitals – both in the State capital and in other cities of Madhya Pradesh. These are questions that will have to be answered.

Only the other day, the Ansal Brothers were sentenced 7 years in jail and a fine of Rs. 2.25 crore each for tampering with evidence linked with New Delhi’s Uphaar Cinema fire tragedy.

To ensure such incidents do not repeat, a case of criminal negligence should be registered and there should be a thorough and fair investigation. For the sake of fair inquiry, officers down the line should be removed without wasting time.

Kamla Nehru Hospital is part of the State capital’s main referral Hamidia Hospital and is located inside the Gandhi Medical College Campus.

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