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Saturday , December 10 , 2011
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Annexe 1 loses licence, seven directors held

Calcutta, Dec. 9: Mamata Banerjee today said she had cancelled the “licence” of AMRI Hospitals and police slapped a criminal case based on a complaint by the fire department, resulting in the arrest of seven hospital directors.

However, later in the day, Biswa Ranjan Satpathi, deputy director of health service and hospital administration, said: “We have cancelled the licence of the affected wing of AMRI Hospitals, Dhakuria.” The announcement cleared the confusion on whether the chief minister had meant to scrap the licence of the entire Dhakuria facility as well as those of AMRI’s hospitals in Salt Lake and Mukundapur.

“The notice has been served to the licencee, M.K. Chetri, managing director of AMRI,” Satpathi said.

Mamata had said earlier: “This is a tragic incident and a criminal offence. I have cancelled the licence of the hospital. The fire services department has already submitted a primary report and a probe is on. Those who are good would only be allowed to run nursing homes.”

Soon after the declaration, top officials of the health department swung into action, looking through the files and collecting whatever relevant information about the hospital they could.

Health department officials went to annexe I, the section of the hospital that caught fire, and pasted the notice on the gates announcing the revoking of licence under Section 24/1/D of the Clinical Establishments Act, 2010.

According to Section 24/1/D of the Clinical Establishments Act, 2010, if the licensing authority the state health department in this case or a higher authority feels that a hospital is not suitable for admission and treatment of patients, the licence can be revoked.

“The hospital can appeal six months later for a licence after renovation following the guidelines. Then licensing authorities will conduct a fresh inspection,” an official said.

Till late on Friday night, there were 68 patients in the main building of AMRI Dhakuria, including some of the victims of today’s tragedy. Partly because of the obvious panic among patients and their relatives, about 70 patients left the 190-bed main wing today.

Mamata also ordered the “immediate arrest” of the AMRI authorities.

Police teams from Lalbazar raided the offices and homes of some of the AMRI directors. A police officer said soon after they started receiving feelers that several wanted to surrender before the police.

Around 3.27pm, Radheshyam Goenka and his son Manish, both hospital directors, reached the Lalbazar police headquarters in a Honda City.

They were taken to the detective department’s homicide wing where assistant commissioner A.K. Majumdar questioned them.

Four other AMRI directors S.K. Todi, his son Ravi, Prashant Goenka and Dayanand Agarwal were “arrested from their houses”, said joint commissioner (crime) Damayanti Sen.

“Although the FIR (lodged by the fire department) did not mention any name, it held responsible the governing body of the hospital (which includes its directors), its supervisors and security staff. Our preliminary investigations revealed that the directors of the hospital were responsible for the incident.”

Another director, R.S. Agarwal, was arrested after he got admitted to BM Birla Heart Research Centre. “We have posted two constables at his bedside. He is under arrest,” a senior officer said late tonight.

The FIR lodged at the Lake police station by Deepak Sarkar, deputy director of the fire services department, blamed slackness on the part of the hospital authorities for the deaths. It charges them with attempt to commit culpable homicide, which carries a punishment of up to seven years in jail, negligence causing a fire (punishable by up to six months in jail) and common intent.

Sen added that 10 hospital officials were also being questioned. A detective department team went to AMRI Dhakuria before the arrests and took down the names and other personal details of its senior officials.

“In September, during a joint inspection with the police to identify the fire preparedness of the hospital, the authorities were asked to get their act in place about fire prevention arrangements at the basement. They had even given in writing that they would comply. Tar por kichhu koreni (They didn’t do anything after that),” Mamata said.

Police sources said the deadline to put things in place expired on December 4.

“We have specifically outlined the lapses that were observed during today’s fire-fighting in the FIR that was lodged with the Lake police station. There were lapses galore,” said fire service director-general D.P. Tarenia.

Mamata has convened a meeting at Writers’ on Saturday to review the Clinical Establishment Act with chief secretary Samar Ghosh, health secretary Samar Mitra and other senior government officials.


• Hospital was asked to ensure inflammable articles were not stacked in basement but it did not comply
• No arrangement for air circulation in case of shutdown in central air-conditioning

• Fire alarm not in place
• Sprinklers not functional
• No training given to hospital staff to handle fire-related emergency
• Staff had never participated in any fire-fight drill.