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SUM fire: NHRC takes suo moto note, puts Chief Secy on notice

Bhubaneswar, Oct 19: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Wednesday has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports that on the death of at least 21 persons at the SUM Hospital and Medical College in Bhubaneswar after a major fire broke out on Monday evening and served a notice to the Chief Secretary.

The Chief Secretary has been asked to submit a report within six weeks, including the relief and rehabilitation granted to the next of Kin of the deceased and the injured. He has also been asked to inform about the steps/ precautions taken or proposed to be taken by the State Government to prevent recurrence of such mishaps.

“At least 22 persons were reported dead. 40 patients in a critical condition were admitted to different hospitals. Reportedly, the hospital in question was warned as early as in 2013 for not keeping the safety measures but the hospital authorities ignored it. In Odisha, out of 568 hospitals, only three have clearance of the department of fire safety,” the commission order stated.

The Commission has observed that callous attitude and lapses of the authorities, if any, amount to violation of right to life of the patients. It has expressed shock how the State authorities allowed such a large number of hospitals to function without proper fire safety clearance.

Reportedly, the fire broke out first in the Operation Theatre of the Dialysis Ward and spread to Medicine ICU.  The State Government has ordered a probe by the Director, Medical Education and Training (DMET) and RDC and declared free treatment to all injured persons.

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