Hyderabad: Left parties held protests in Andhra Pradesh’s Vijayawada demanding action against the management responsible for the fire at a hotel leased for a COVID-19 care centre in the city in which 12 people were killed and 18 others survived injuries in the early hours of August 9.
The fire broke out at Hotel Swarna Palace, a star hotel in the centre of Vijayawada, leased by Ramesh Hospitals for running a COVID care centre. There were about 30 people including COVID-19 patients and hospital staff in the building at the time of the incident.
Police registered a case under sections 304(2), 308 read with 34 Indian Penal Code (IPC) against the management of Ramesh Hospitals and Hotel Swarna Palace. According to the complaint filed by Vijayawada Tahsildar, both the management of the hotel and hospital had knowledge of electric defects in the hotel but allegedly avoided repair work only to save money.
“As rectification of repairs involves huge amounts, they avoided the repairs. Knowing the fact that if the electrical defects are not rectified, it will lead to a short circuit, they opened COVID-19 Centre in Swarna Palace,” stated the complaint.
Reportedly, COVID-19 patients jumped from the first and second floors of the hotel to escape the fire caused by a short circuit on the fourth floor of the building. Presently, 15 persons are being treated in a private hospital in Vijayawada.
Enraged following the incident, common people and the Left parties held protests across Vijayawada demanding a high-level probe into the matter.
Negligence of the corporate hospital has killed COVID-19 patients in the fire accident, says Ch Babu Rao, CPI(M), Andhra Pradesh Secretariat Member. “While middle-class people are approaching corporate hospitals for COVID-19 treatment, the hospitals are fleecing them. In this incident, the patients choked to death due to the negligence of both the hospital and hotel which caused the fire. On the other side, the government hospitals are overwhelmed with insufficient infrastructure to treat COVID-19 patients,” he said.
Coronavirus cases are rapidly surging across all districts in Andhra Pradesh in spite of large-scale testing since April. As of Monday, the number of COVID-19 positive cases reported in the state stood at 2,27,860 and the death toll was reportedly 2,036.
Meanwhile, Ramesh Hospital has also been accused of overcharging COVID-19 patients. Reportedly, the hospital is said to be charging Rs 35,000 per day against Rs 3,850 cap imposed by the state government.
Bakshu, a tax consultant who survived the fire accident, said that the Hospital charged Rs 35,000 per day.
Fire in Ahmedabad Hospital
Last week, eight patients were killed in a fire in Shrey Hospital (a private COVID-19 designated hospital) in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad. A public interest litigation filed with the Gujarat High Court has demanded that the court direct the private hospital management to compensate the victims.