The flavour of Kolkata

The flavour of Kolkata
Kolkata Maidan- The lungs of the city. Lovingly shot by Arindam Patra.

Friday, December 09, 2011

The AMRI Fire

I have little to add on the devastating fire that broke at one of the top and expensive private hospitals (AMRI at Dhakuria) at around 3.30 am that shook the city today. The death toll, rising possibly every hour, reportedly stands at close to 90 now, apparently most of them patients, including many old and immobile. The fire started at the basement and rose up to the second floor.

This is the second biggest fire the city witnessed haplessly after the one at Stephen Court in March 2010!

What I find particularly shocking is that the fire safety of such an advanced institution where people would come to save lives of near and dear ones against hefty expenditure apparently left a lot to be desired! Did they have smoke alarms, I wonder!

As per last update, the CM Mamata Banerjee, who's also the Minister of Health, has cancelled the license of the hospital. Six directors of AMRI (most of them big names in the industry) have been arrested.

This incident has tarnished the goodwill of the AMRI chain (They have another full-fledged hospital in Salt Lake and a newly started maternity and pediatric hospital at Mukundapur on EM Bypass) majorly and the group (Promoted by two leading local business groups - Emami and Shrachi) will have to struggle hard to revive it in the coming years. The healthcare chain expanded remarkably in the last 10 years. Public memory is short in general, but since this is healthcare this nightmare is not going to fade away easily. This incident should also lead to a new benchmark of fire safety standards in private hospitals in Kolkata.

The offenders should receive exemplary punishment in the court of law and the government should leave no stones unturned to do the needful. It's good to know that the CM has vowed the 'harshest punishment possible' for the guilty.

Looking forward to the development that follows.