The AMRI Fire

Ankur Sohanpal | December 10th, 2011, 7:09 am

Our deepest sympathies for the relatives of those who died in the AMRI fire of Kolkata, on the morning of December 9th, 2011.
This is an event that could have been prevented, and its entire course confirms the negligence of people in positions of power. This is result of the kind of haughty negligence that avoids the voice of reason when not coming from the mouth of a recognized source of authority. Collectively, the owners who made compromises on their fire equipment upkeep despite a similar incident in 2008, the management that continued the storage of inflammable materials in the basement despite warnings against such an action, and the hospital administration – including doctors and nurses who did not allow patients (most of who would not be able to walk, let alone run, by themselves) to be discharged when their relatives saw the lethal smoke arising from the basement, yet who fled without a backward glance when the danger became unavoidable – are all responsible for the 80+ deaths. The fact that 5 lacs people around the hospital in a 5 km radius were not in grave danger given the radioactive material which was kept right under the original floor of the fire, is nothing if not godsend.
This whole situation reeks of mismanagement and dubious dealings which resulted in the lack of a correct infrastructure which could have facilitated the fire escape procedures – and innocents have paid the price for it. The owners have been arrested for attempted homicide, and we cannot but learn from their callousness. Our prayers go out for those who have lost their lives and those who have permanently been marred by it – emotionally as well as physically.