In the wake of the horrific tragedy in which 10 newborn babies died in a hospital fire in Maharashtra’s Bhandara district, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday said that orders had been given for conducting a safety and fire audit of all government hospitals across the State.
Mr. Thackeray visited Bhandara on Sunday and met with the grief-stricken parents who lost their babies in the accident which occurred on the wee hours of Saturday. He also spoke with hospital and health officials in the district, which is part of the State’s Vidarbha region.
Promising that stern action would be taken against those found guilty of negligence, Mr. Thackeray said that a committee had been formed by the administration to conduct a comprehensive probe into the tragedy.
“I approached the parents of the deceased children with folded hands…I have no words to console them…certainly, there will be an enquiry. The probe we have announced will also check if the fire was indeed an accident or a cause of ignoring an earlier safety report,” said Mr. Thackeray, who was accompanied by Legislative Assembly speaker Nana Patole and Minister Vishwajeet Kadam.
The committee would be headed by the Divisional Commissioner and would also include a senior member of the Fire Department of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), said Mr. Thackeray.
Reassuring the victims’ kin that the truth would come out, the Chief Minister said that while the inquiry will not recklessly hold anyone responsible, he nevertheless warned that stringent action would be taken if it emerged that there was negligence on part of authorities.
“The purpose of the committee’s investigations will be to prevent such unfortunate incidents from recurring in the future…I have also directed the authorities to investigate if there have been any incidents of ignoring safety regulations at hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr. Thackeray informed.
Meanwhile, former chief minister and Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly, Devendra Fadnavis, has demanded that a case of culpable homicide be lodged against the hospital authorities.
“This accident at a district government hospital is a ‘black day’ for Maharashtra,” said Mr. Fadnavis.