The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation has (AMC) has issued closure notices to 42 private hospitals and nursing following a Supreme Court order earlier this week. Besides, the civic body also cancelled their registrations and asked them to vacate in-patients within seven days and has restricted them from taking any new admissions as it initiates the process of sealing their premises.
Last month, the Supreme Court, while hearing a suo moto petition about fire safety in hospitals, had held in abeyance a July 8 notification of the AMC that gave time up to March 2022 to such facilities to adhere to the Building Use (BU) norms. It then became essential for the civic body to close as many as 42 hospitals, The Indian Express reported.
On September 7, the process of sealing the public premises was initiated by the AMC following a public notice to hospitals in Ahmedabad that operate without BU permission and do not comply with fire safety norms.
42 Hospitals Sent Closure Notice
Except Ahmedabad Medical Association (AMA) and a private diagnostic centre, all the 42 nursing homes and hospitals were a party to the plea in Gujarat High Court and Supreme Court that sought the court's protection from coercive actions owing to failure in complying with buildings norms. The two do not fall under the category of nursing homes and hospitals, the newspaper reported.
On June 3, Ahmedabad Medical Association (AMA) and its 44 members filed a petition seeking relief from sealing of the premises of their establishments by the civic body owing to absence of fire safety NOC and/or building use (BU) permit. The plea was discussed by the Gujarat High Court, citing it as being vague and not maintainable. Following this, the AMA appealed to the apex court where again the bench dismissed it and refused to go against the high court's order.
The hospitals range from only two to 10 capacity beds which are run from commercial complexes. Since most of these hospitals are paediatric and orthopaedic, they were unused during the two COVID waves. It is estimated that around half of private hospitals and nursing homes are functioning without a BU clearance, and if the same action continues, the number could increase in the upcoming days.
29 Hospital Fire Incidents
In its reply filed before the state assembly during the budget session in April 2021, the Gujarat government mentioned that 29 hospital fire incidents were reported in the state in the last two years. Among those, 14 incidents were reported from Ahmedabad and 15 from Vadodara. In addition, eight people died in the fire at Shrey Hospital in Ahmedabad. Also, 18 people lost their lives in the fire incident at a Covid hospital in Bharuch in May.
Following the order, the apex court said that the state should observe the rule of law by taking proactive steps. Earlier in April this year, it was necessary for all hospitals to have fire safety equipment and those not have the facility have been issued notices.