The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Monday took suo motu cognizance and issued a notice to Maharashtra government over the death of 10 newborns due to fire in Bhandara District General Hospital on Saturday.
The Commission has issued notices to the Chief Secretary and DGP, Government of Maharashtra calling for a detailed report in the matter within four weeks. "The DGP is also expected to inform the Commission about the outcome of the investigation being conducted by the police authorities. The report must contain the fire audit reports of various hospitals in the state as well as what measures have been taken or contemplated to be taken by the state against the erring or negligent officers/officials so that they cannot go with impurity," NHRC said.
The Commission has observed that the victim babies were in the custody of a state-run hospital where they lost their lives. "Hence, the state cannot escape its responsibility," NHRC said. "This is a serious issue of violation of human rights for which the accountability of the negligent officers/officials is required to be fixed, with retrospective effect. The monetary relief alone is not sufficient to compensate. Further, it is imperative to ensure that the support systems in various hospitals in the state must provide adequate care and attention to the patients for protection of their human rights," it added.
On Sunday, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray visited the hospital and met the families of victim infants. He announced that a 6-member committee headed by the Nagpur divisional commissioner would conduct a thorough probe into the incident and submit a report to the government within a month. The committee would include fire safety experts and former Mumbai Fire Brigade Chief PS Rahangdale. The CM clarified that the government would not spare the guilty.
"Words fail me," he said, referring to the tragedy. “It was heart-wrenching. The inquiry committee will probe whether there were any demands for fire safety equipment and were these fulfilled or not. The committee will examine whether there was negligence by the health machinery because of the Covid-19 crisis,’’ he added.