Mamata defends fire department inaction on AMRI

December 14th, 2011 - 11:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Mamata Banerjee Kolkata, Dec 14 (IANS) Defending the fire department’s inaction after the AMRI hospital failed to honour an affidavit for removing combustible material from its basement, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Wednesday put the onus on the hospital for not keeping its pledge.

“The stipulated period by the fire department for removing the substances had not expired too long ago, and it was not advisable to take stern action immediately. Moreover, it was the duty of the hospital to abide by the directive within time,” said Banerjee when asked why no inspection was done of the basement after expiry of the time given.

In an interview to Bengali news channel Star Ananda, Banerjee said it was not possible for the already stretched fire department to go to every house to ensure all their directives are followed.

“They directed the hospital to remove the substances. It is the duty of the hospital to follow the instructions. It is not always possible for the fire department to go to every house and check whether the orders are followed,” added Banerjee.

Earlier, Fire Services and Disaster Management Minister Javed Khan had indicated that the inferno at the AMRI hospital that took 93 lives could have been averted had the fire department not “trusted” an affidavit given by the hospital authorities of clearing the basement of combustible material within three months.

The fire department had some months back inspected the Advanced Medicare & Research Institute (AMRI) hospital in South Kolkata’s Dhakuria, after it applied for a no objection certificate (NOC).

“We had made an inspection and found some objectionable material there which we had told them to remove. The NOC was given only after they gave an undertaking that they would remove the material within three months,” Khan had said.

However, though the undertaking on court paper was given Sep 5, the authorities failed to check whether the hospital had kept its commitment.

Banerjee wondered why the hospital had stored combustible material in the basement that was meant to be used for parking.

“I cannot really fathom as to why they had stored so much of cotton and other combustible materials. It’s really beyond logic as to why they kept the cotton to be used for medical purposes in a basement for car parking?” exclaimed Banerjee.

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