NHRC notice to the Government Maharashtra and Union Ministry of Labour and Employment over ESIC hospital fire in Mumbai resulting in death of many patients (18.12.2018)

New Delhi, 18th December, 2018

The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports that a massive fire engulfed the Employees State Insurance Corporation Hospital, locally known as Kamgar hospital in Andheri (East) area of Mumbai in Maharashtra, resulting in the death of six persons and injuries to many others yesterday on the 17th December, 2018. Reportedly, the death toll may increase, as the condition of several injured persons is serious. The fire caused by a suspected short-circuit was reportedly noticed in the upper floors of the hospital building, at around 4:15 PM.

The Commission has observed that the possibility of the negligence by the hospital administration cannot be ruled out in the incident. Hence, it has issued a notice to the Chief Secretary, Government of Maharashtra calling for a detailed report including the outcome of the probed reportedly mentioned by the City Mayor. The Commission would like to know whether the building has a valid ‘No Objection Certificate’ from the Fire Department and whether the fire audit was conducted. A report from the DGP, Maharashtra is also expected to intimate about registration of FIR, if any and status thereof.

Employees State Insurance Corporation Hospital comes under jurisdiction of the Union Ministry of Labour and Employment. Hence, the Commission has also issued a notice to the Secretary, Union Ministry of Labour and Employment, calling for a detailed report in the matter within four weeks including action taken against the guilty if any and steps taken/ proposed to be taken to ensure that such painful incidents do not recur in future.

The Commission has also observed that the patients, who generally approach the ESIC hospitals, belong to economically weaker sections, employed with different private sector units, who cannot afford treatment at private hospitals.

According to the media reports, carried today on the 18th December, 2018, the Mayor of Mumbai has stated that the incident would be probed and strict action will be taken against the guilty. Approximately, 12 Fire Tenders, 15 water tankers and other specialized equipments were rushed to the spot to control the fire and to rescue the persons, trapped inside. The rescue operation got hampered due to snapping of power supply from the building as a precautionary measure and finally by 7:00 PM, the fire was brought under control.