It’s now official. Almost 50% hospitals in Mumbai have major lapses in fire safety. Following the killing of 10 newborns at the Bhandara district general hospital, the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister had announced that a fire safety audit will be conducted of hospitals across the state. Accordingly, BMC had conducted a survey of 1,324 hospitals and found that 663 hospitals miserably fail in adhering to prescribed fire safety norms. The civic body has served notices to them. This was announced by Urban Development Minister Eknath Shinde in the state assembly.
In addition, the notices have been served to 38 government hospitals for shortcomings in the fire safety. The lapses were largely related to lack of adequate fire hydrants, fire sprinklers, smoke alarms and fire extinguishers were not filled up regularly.
A BMC officer told the Free Press Journal, ‘’ In some hospitals the fire alarm and smoke detection system were not active. It was also found that compartmentation where by rooms or wards are segregated with fire walls was not done. The compartmentation is necessary to prevent the penetration of smoke or heat in other rooms or wards.’’
As far as Thane is concerned, Shinde, who is also the district guardian minister, said that 347 hospitals were surveyed of which 28 were shut down, 151 had submitted fire compliance while remaining 168 had been given time to submit the same till February 22. However, Shinde has not revealed in his reply the action taken against the concerned civic body officers for negligence.
However, BJP legislator Atul Bhatkhalkar criticized the state government saying that it has not taken any action to avoid fire incidents in the hospitals.
The state government came under attack after the Bhandara fire as the information gathered under the RTI Act revealed that the hospital had no fire safety equipment from 2018. This is despite the proposal being submitted by the hospital but it failed to get timely clearance because of administrative wrangling between the public health and public work departments.