Seal Hospitals not following Fire Safety Rules: Gujarat HC demands compliance report from State

Published On 2022-07-02 04:30 GMT   |   Update On 2022-07-02 04:30 GMT

Ahmedabad: In an attempt to ensure fire safety across medical health facilities across the State, the Gujarat High Court recently directed the Government and all the other concerned authorities to ensure compliance of the fire safety rules and seal hospitals that do not comply with them. The High Court on Thursday has also ordered the State to close down hospital buildings that do not have...

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Ahmedabad: In an attempt to ensure fire safety across medical health facilities across the State, the Gujarat High Court recently directed the Government and all the other concerned authorities to ensure compliance of the fire safety rules and seal hospitals that do not comply with them. 

The High Court on Thursday has also ordered the State to close down hospital buildings that do not have a valid building use (BU) permission or that have been built while violating the approved plan.

Apart from this, the HC bench comprising of Chief Justice Aravind Kumar and Justice Ashutosh Shastri has also asked the State to submit a report stating the condition of the private hospital buildings in Gujarat and if they comply with the fire safety rules issued by the HC earlier.

Besides, the court also demanded a report from the State regarding the June 25 fire incident in Dev Complex, which houses four hospitals. It also sought to know from the government what action had been taken on this and who was accountable for the incident.

The bench ordered the State, "to take immediate steps to ensure compliance of the order dated 15.12.2020 and the AMC (Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation) is also directed to state in its report as to whom the responsibility is fixed or accountability is attributed for the fire accident in question."

"It is not only the steps that would be taken after such accidents occur but also preventive steps which should be of utmost importance. These accidents are occuring due to either there being no proper compliance to the statutory requirements as required under the Gujarat Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act, 2013, or the unwillingness of the authorities to implement the Act in its true spirit…" the court mentioned in the order.

"Hence we direct the state to take immediate steps to still such buildings which are either not complying with statutory requirements of the Fire Act or which do not possess the BU permission or there has been complete violation of building plan or buildings having been constructed in utter violation of approved plans," it added.

Also Read: Building use(BS) certificate: 400 Ahmedabad hospitals face closure

The court was considering a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on Fire Safety. Back on December 15, 2020, the HC had asked the State to take immediate measures for preventing fire in hospitals. Back then, the HC bench had also directed the authorities to immediately remove the glass facades in the hospital buildings.

HC had mentioned in its order that "glass facades to be removed forthwith and staircases shall be fully ventilated above the parapet wall" and that glass facades of the hospital buildings "should not be permitted in any event".

As per the latest media report by Indian Express, the HC bench had then directed to ensure that every month servicing of heavy load equipment such as ventilators, air conditioners are done. Observing that certain officers should be fixed with accountability and responsibility, the HC bench had also mentioned that "ICU should preferably be located only on the ground floor and have alternate exits wide enough to roll the beds out in the event of necessity."

Times of India adds that during the hearing of the case, the counsel for the petitioner, Advocate Amit Panchal raised the issue of glass facade and sought action for the incident of fire at Dev Complex. He also informed the court that despite the repeated orders, the hospitals are not complying with the fire safety rules.
Referring to the issue of glass facade, the petitioner's counsel submitted that because of such glass covered structures, the smoke did not come out of the building and it resulted in 60 people getting stuck inside.
On the other hand, the State Government informed the court that it had complied with the HC order on fire safety rules in public hospitals. 
Responding to this, the HC bench observed, "For private hospitals, which outnumber government hospitals, there are no material available on record which would suggest or indicate as to how the said (HC) order has been implemented. Hence, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation would also be required to place on record a report on hospitals located in highrise buildings and how the order has been implemented."
The bench also questioned the hospitals being set up in commercial buildings, especially when there are restaurants in the same building. Observing that preventing fire is of paramount importance, the court further ordered, "Until and unless stringent action is taken against those buildings which are not fire compliant, these incidents would occur in future and until and unless deterrent action is taken against such erring persons, such incidents may go unnoticed many a time. Hence, we direct the state and its instrumentalities to take immediate steps to seal such buildings which do not complying with statutory requirement of fire act or which do not possess BU permission or having been constructed in utter violation of approved plans."
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