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Over 200 Ahmedabad schools served closure notice for violating fire safety norms

Municipal Corporation takes measure after enforcing similarly strict norms for hospitals

Sabrangindia 22 Sep 2021

ahmedabad schoolsRepresentation Image

The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) has served final closure notice upon as many as 214 schools for their failure to comply with fire safety norms. The notices were served by the Fire and Emergency Services Department of the AMC as part of a wider exercise to check fire safety compliance in various commercial establishments including but not limited to hospitals, nursing homes, restaurants and hotels.

These establishments are required to get fire safety certificates and No Objection Certificates (NOC) from the Fire Department under provisions of the Gujarat Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act 2013 that was amended in 2021. However, as per a statement released by the AMC, “Owners, trustees, managements of these 214 schools have not obtained fire safety certificate, fire NOC or have failed to get these renewed.” They were therefore given seven days to shut down operations.

According to the Indian Express, notices were served to schools in Jamalpur, Shahpur, Panchkuva, Gomtipur, Naroda, Odhav, Maninagar, Prahladnagar, Sabarmati, Bodakdev, Aslali, Jashodanagar, Thaltej and Navrangpura. 

Fire safety in Gujarat

The subject of fire safety had become particularly significant in Ahmedabad in wake of the Shrey Hospital fire of August 6, 2020 that killed eight people recovering from Covid-19 in the ICU. Following this there was another such incidents reported from Rajkot where five Covid-19 patients were killed in November 2020. Yet another fire broke out in the ICU of the Bharuch Welfare Hospital in May 2021, killing 18 people.

Following this, the matter of fire safety became part of a wider litigation that eventually made its way to the Supreme Court. First, Advocate Suhel Tirmizi, whose wife Ayesha was one of the victims of the Shrey Hospital fire, had filed a PIL demanding accountability be fixed on various state and hospital authorities. The Gujarat High Court had passed two significant orders with respect to fire safety.

On December 15, 2020, while passing orders in a batch of Public Interest Litigations (PIL) in connection with the Shrey Hospital fire case, the Gujarat High Court had made a series of pertinent observations and passed orders that are bound to have a far-reaching impact.

The court ordered the State of Gujarat “to enact a consolidated Code/Act/Guidelines for fire safety requirement for clinical establishments/hospitals of all kinds setting out minimum standards of fire safety standards to be maintained by clinical establishments/ hospitals such as across the State of Gujarat.” It also directed the state government “to frame rules and guidelines for fire safety in ICU wards of the hospitals.”

It further ordered all respondent authorities “to comply with the provisions of Gujarat Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act, 2013 strictly in clinical establishments such as Hospital/Nursing Homes/ School buildings of the city of Ahmedabad.”

Significantly, it also directed respondent authorities “to make mandatory installation of sprinkles and a fire extinguisher in every room/ward of every Hospital/Nursing Home irrespective of its height with a view to protect lives of innocent and infirm patients who are not capable of escaping any disaster in case of emergency situations.”

Then on February 26, 2021, the court ordered that all Municipal Corporations mentioned in the PIL be served notice.

It further ordered, “We direct all the Municipal Corporations to place on C/WPPIL/118/2020 ORDER record by way of an affidavit, a list of all the high rise buildings

-15 metres and 18 metres in height, special buildings, schools, hospitals, industries and factories within the jurisdictional limits of all the Municipal Corporations :

a. Which have a valid and subsisting No Objection Certificate with regard to the Fire Prevention and Protection Systems in the State of Gujarat ;

AND b. Which do not have a valid and subsisting No Objection Certificate with regard to the Fire Prevention and Protection Systems in the State of Gujarat”

The Court had ordered, “Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation is directed to place on record by way of an affidavit, the details of all the private hospitals which have not complied with the directions issued in Paragraph No. 23(14) of our earlier Order dated 15.12.2020” and that it was “directed to place on record the photocopies of the No Objection Certificates issued to all the hospitals located within the jurisdictional limits of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation signed and certified by the Competent Authority within a period of 10 days from the date of the receipt of this order. One set of such photocopies shall also be furnished to the party-in-person.”

Specifically, when it came to reopening the Shrey Hospital, the court had on February 26, 2021 ordered, “The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation is directed not to remove or open the seals applied at the premises of the Shrey Hospital without the permission of this Court and shall not permit the Management to once again start with the functioning of the Hospital without the permission of this Court.”

The case in the Supreme Court

Following the Rajkot fire at the Uday Shivananda Hospital, the SC took suo moto cognisance, and in the case titled, In Re: Proper Treatment of COVID-19 Patients and Dignified Handling of Dead Bodies in the Hospitals, etc., asked the government via an order passed on December 9, 2020, to submit a report comprising data from all states on fire safety audits carried out in hospitals.

Meanwhile, the Gujarat government issued an executive notification that gave a virtual carte blanche to hospitals by allowing them to function without adhering to fire safety norms till June 2022, and that no action will be taken against them till then. Given the number of lives lost and the direct involvement of the highest court in the country, this notification showcased the Gujarat government’s impunity. But the Supreme Court took umbrage to this move by the Gujarat state government and stayed the notification.

AMC’s actions

AMC began its crackdown on hospitals and nursing homes first, but expanded its probe into fire safety compliance of other commercial establishments after facing allegations of selectively targeting medical facilities. According to the Indian Express notices have been issued to 42 hospitals and nursing homes, as well as 13 hotels and restaurants so far.

Related:

Guj gov’t faces heat for submitting report on fire safety in hospitals to SC in sealed cover

Guj HC slams state gov’t for lax attitude to fire safety

Gujarat: 18 Covid patients killed in Bharuch hospital fire!

Shrey Hospital Fire: Guj HC bats for greater accountability

SC takes suo moto cognisance of Rajkot Covid Hospital fire

Shrey Hospital Fire: Four months on, no evidence yet!

8 killed in Ahmedabad Covid-19 Hospital Fire

Another fatal inferno in Gujarat Covid hospital!

Over 200 Ahmedabad schools served closure notice for violating fire safety norms

Municipal Corporation takes measure after enforcing similarly strict norms for hospitals

ahmedabad schoolsRepresentation Image

The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) has served final closure notice upon as many as 214 schools for their failure to comply with fire safety norms. The notices were served by the Fire and Emergency Services Department of the AMC as part of a wider exercise to check fire safety compliance in various commercial establishments including but not limited to hospitals, nursing homes, restaurants and hotels.

These establishments are required to get fire safety certificates and No Objection Certificates (NOC) from the Fire Department under provisions of the Gujarat Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act 2013 that was amended in 2021. However, as per a statement released by the AMC, “Owners, trustees, managements of these 214 schools have not obtained fire safety certificate, fire NOC or have failed to get these renewed.” They were therefore given seven days to shut down operations.

According to the Indian Express, notices were served to schools in Jamalpur, Shahpur, Panchkuva, Gomtipur, Naroda, Odhav, Maninagar, Prahladnagar, Sabarmati, Bodakdev, Aslali, Jashodanagar, Thaltej and Navrangpura. 

Fire safety in Gujarat

The subject of fire safety had become particularly significant in Ahmedabad in wake of the Shrey Hospital fire of August 6, 2020 that killed eight people recovering from Covid-19 in the ICU. Following this there was another such incidents reported from Rajkot where five Covid-19 patients were killed in November 2020. Yet another fire broke out in the ICU of the Bharuch Welfare Hospital in May 2021, killing 18 people.

Following this, the matter of fire safety became part of a wider litigation that eventually made its way to the Supreme Court. First, Advocate Suhel Tirmizi, whose wife Ayesha was one of the victims of the Shrey Hospital fire, had filed a PIL demanding accountability be fixed on various state and hospital authorities. The Gujarat High Court had passed two significant orders with respect to fire safety.

On December 15, 2020, while passing orders in a batch of Public Interest Litigations (PIL) in connection with the Shrey Hospital fire case, the Gujarat High Court had made a series of pertinent observations and passed orders that are bound to have a far-reaching impact.

The court ordered the State of Gujarat “to enact a consolidated Code/Act/Guidelines for fire safety requirement for clinical establishments/hospitals of all kinds setting out minimum standards of fire safety standards to be maintained by clinical establishments/ hospitals such as across the State of Gujarat.” It also directed the state government “to frame rules and guidelines for fire safety in ICU wards of the hospitals.”

It further ordered all respondent authorities “to comply with the provisions of Gujarat Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act, 2013 strictly in clinical establishments such as Hospital/Nursing Homes/ School buildings of the city of Ahmedabad.”

Significantly, it also directed respondent authorities “to make mandatory installation of sprinkles and a fire extinguisher in every room/ward of every Hospital/Nursing Home irrespective of its height with a view to protect lives of innocent and infirm patients who are not capable of escaping any disaster in case of emergency situations.”

Then on February 26, 2021, the court ordered that all Municipal Corporations mentioned in the PIL be served notice.

It further ordered, “We direct all the Municipal Corporations to place on C/WPPIL/118/2020 ORDER record by way of an affidavit, a list of all the high rise buildings

-15 metres and 18 metres in height, special buildings, schools, hospitals, industries and factories within the jurisdictional limits of all the Municipal Corporations :

a. Which have a valid and subsisting No Objection Certificate with regard to the Fire Prevention and Protection Systems in the State of Gujarat ;

AND b. Which do not have a valid and subsisting No Objection Certificate with regard to the Fire Prevention and Protection Systems in the State of Gujarat”

The Court had ordered, “Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation is directed to place on record by way of an affidavit, the details of all the private hospitals which have not complied with the directions issued in Paragraph No. 23(14) of our earlier Order dated 15.12.2020” and that it was “directed to place on record the photocopies of the No Objection Certificates issued to all the hospitals located within the jurisdictional limits of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation signed and certified by the Competent Authority within a period of 10 days from the date of the receipt of this order. One set of such photocopies shall also be furnished to the party-in-person.”

Specifically, when it came to reopening the Shrey Hospital, the court had on February 26, 2021 ordered, “The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation is directed not to remove or open the seals applied at the premises of the Shrey Hospital without the permission of this Court and shall not permit the Management to once again start with the functioning of the Hospital without the permission of this Court.”

The case in the Supreme Court

Following the Rajkot fire at the Uday Shivananda Hospital, the SC took suo moto cognisance, and in the case titled, In Re: Proper Treatment of COVID-19 Patients and Dignified Handling of Dead Bodies in the Hospitals, etc., asked the government via an order passed on December 9, 2020, to submit a report comprising data from all states on fire safety audits carried out in hospitals.

Meanwhile, the Gujarat government issued an executive notification that gave a virtual carte blanche to hospitals by allowing them to function without adhering to fire safety norms till June 2022, and that no action will be taken against them till then. Given the number of lives lost and the direct involvement of the highest court in the country, this notification showcased the Gujarat government’s impunity. But the Supreme Court took umbrage to this move by the Gujarat state government and stayed the notification.

AMC’s actions

AMC began its crackdown on hospitals and nursing homes first, but expanded its probe into fire safety compliance of other commercial establishments after facing allegations of selectively targeting medical facilities. According to the Indian Express notices have been issued to 42 hospitals and nursing homes, as well as 13 hotels and restaurants so far.

Related:

Guj gov’t faces heat for submitting report on fire safety in hospitals to SC in sealed cover

Guj HC slams state gov’t for lax attitude to fire safety

Gujarat: 18 Covid patients killed in Bharuch hospital fire!

Shrey Hospital Fire: Guj HC bats for greater accountability

SC takes suo moto cognisance of Rajkot Covid Hospital fire

Shrey Hospital Fire: Four months on, no evidence yet!

8 killed in Ahmedabad Covid-19 Hospital Fire

Another fatal inferno in Gujarat Covid hospital!

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