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Fire nod for AMRI inpatient unit

The AMRI Dhakuria unit could open within a month its indoor unit, closed since the December 2011 fire at Annexe I of the hospital killed 91 people.

Officials on Monday said the hospital has received a crucial clearance from the fire service department to start admitting patients to the Dhakuria unit.

The AMRI promoters have now applied for a health licence.

The government’s clearance came within days of chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s meeting with two owners of AMRI Hospitals — R.S. Agarwal and R.S. Goenka, the joint chairmen of the Emami group, their sons Aditya Agarwal and Manish Goenka, both directors of the company — on June 10.

They discussed the possible reopening of indoor facilities at the Dhakuria unit. It was the first formal interaction between her and the hospital owners since the tragedy.

“We have applied for the licence under the clinical establishment act. We are expecting to open the indoor wing within a month. Initially, we’ll have around 200 beds,” said an AMRI official.

The official said the rebuilt wards were ready to take patients.

The hospital will also need a trade licence from the Calcutta Municipal Corporation and clearance from the state pollution control board to admit patients to its main building and Annexe II.

The chief minister had announced cancellation of AMRI’s licence under the clinical establishment act on December 10, 2011, a day after the catastrophic blaze.

The state government gave the licence for the outpatient department last year, but continued to hold back the clearance for Annexe I.

The fire department didn’t issue the no-objection certificate because it wanted AMRI to build a fireproof staircase for swift evacuation in times of emergencies. The staircase was ready early this year and fire officials had conducted several inspections.

The hospital has started deploying employees at its Dhakruia unit.

“At present, there are around 300 employees at Dhakuria for running the OPD. We’ll have around 600 for indoor operations,” said Rupak Barua, group CEO, AMRI.

Health department officials said they would send an inspection team soon.

“We have received the application and a team will be sent to conduct inspections,” said a Swastha Bhavan official.

Operating theatres, the nephrology unit and other treatment facilities will be located in the main building while Annexe II will house nuclear medicine and neuro-surgery units.

Officials said 40 beds would be kept for neuro-surgery patients.

Officials said the government has been slowly abandoning its rigid stand towards AMRI, paving the way for the hospital to reopen its outpatient department at the Dhakuria unit early this year.

Eight of the AMRI directors were arrested immediately after the fire but they all got bail after spending varying periods in jail.

The AMRI board has since been reconstituted, excluding 12 of the 14 former directors.

Officials said the new AMRI board helped the government ease its stand.

The families of Agarwal and Goenka hold 66 per cent stake in AMRI. Co-owner S.K. Todi’s Shrachi Group holds a little over 32 per cent.