Hyderabad: Ten Covid-19 suspects were killed and 20 sustained severe burn injuries, after a major fire broke out at Swarna Palace, a hotel-turned into private Covid Care Centre, in Vijayawada on Sunday.
This is the second fire accident in the last 72 hours and a wakeup call for the rest. Enquiries with the Telangana fire department and Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation officials revealed that 90 per cent of private hospitals in Hyderabad do not have No Objection Certificate.
A senior officer serving with the Directorate Of Enforcement Vigilance & Disaster Management (on condition of anonymity) said, “Inspections revealed that 90 per cent of hospitals have no NOCs and those having, deviated from the building plan. These include the hospitals treating COVID patients in twin cities. Before the lockdown, notices were issued to these hospitals but only a few responded.”
The fire safety department looks into three aspects to issue an NOC, means of escape in case of a fire incident, setback space and fire safety equipment, duly following the Fire Safety Act.
When asked why no action has been taken, the officer explained, “The department is engaged in Covid related activities since the outbreak of the pandemic. A few inspections were conducted and hospitals were sealed. The defects involve repairs and this needs money. Many hospitals delay works for several reasons.”
To recall, last October major fire broke in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) of Shine Children’s hospital at LB Nagar in Hyderabad. A five-month-old baby from Suryapet district died in the incident, while five others suffered burn injuries.
“Many hospitals have taken buildings, which were not built in compliance with the rules, on lease. A few lack large staircase space while other have no setbacks,” the officer added said.
According to the department, government hospitals meet all the parameters of fire safety but fail to maintain the equipment properly.
Meanwhile, Investigation into the Swarna Palace Hotel mayhem revealed that the hotel did not get the NOC from the fire department to operate a Covid-19 facility. “Ramesh Hospital, Vijayawada, signed an MoU with Swarna Palace to operate a Covid-19 facility on payment basis. The hotel management and Ramesh Hospital knew there were electrical defects but they did not get them rectified as it involved spending a huge amount. Both the parties were very well aware that there was a risk of fire mishap but opened the Covid Care Centre in it,” regional Tahsildar said in his complaint.