Year ender 2017: When negligence of authorities cost hundreds of innocent lives

DECCAN CHRONICLE.
Published Dec 31, 2017, 12:37 pm IST
Updated Dec 31, 2017, 12:38 pm IST
The year 2017, which witnessed several deaths in accidents or due to negligence, ended with another fatal tragedy.
BRD hospital in Uttar Pradesh, where hundreds of children died due to lack of oxygen (left) and victims of stampede at Elphinstone Road railway station in Mumbai (right). (Photos: PTI)
 BRD hospital in Uttar Pradesh, where hundreds of children died due to lack of oxygen (left) and victims of stampede at Elphinstone Road railway station in Mumbai (right). (Photos: PTI)

Mumbai: The year 2017, which witnessed several deaths in accidents or due to negligence, ended with another fatal tragedy. In the latest calamity, 14 people suffocated to death late on Thursday night when a massive fire gutted three rooftop restaurants in the Kamala Mills Compound in central Mumbai.

This was the fifth fatal incident that took place since August, reportedly due to negligence of the authorities. Close to 500 people, mostly infants were killed in the incidents ranging from building collapse to explosion at power plant to a stampede on a footbridge.

 

The deaths of children, mostly infants, at a hospital in Uttar Pradesh could be accounted the most unfortunate incident this year. Serious lapses on part of the hospital and civic authorities were responsible for the misfortune.

All the mishaps could have been avoided had people in power acted on time, suggest the news reports on the tragedies.

The latest of the six calamities was the fire at the rooftop restaurant in a building at the Kamala Mills Compound.

Massive fire gutted rooftop restaurant, killed 14

A little after 12:30 am on Friday, a fire broke out at ‘1Above’ restaurant located on the rooftop of four-storeyed Kamala Trade House in the Kamala Mills Compound at Lower Parel area of Mumbai.

At least 14 people, including 11 women, died of suffocation and 21 others were injured at ‘1Above’ even as the fire spread to Mojo pub on the third floor, one level below.

While the Congress alleged corruption in the Shiv Sena-run Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for the tragedy, Mangesh Kasalkar of the MNS said he had written to the BMC about the “deadly violations” in the Kamala Trade House but the civic body in response said it did not find anything illegal at the site.

"I complained on October 10. I gave names. The BMC respond by saying that they had inspected the building and there was nothing illegal," NDTV quoted Kasalkar.

The Mumbai police later accused '1 Above' of flouting safety norms and violating regulations on encroachment with obstructions blocking its emergency exit. The BMC also suspended five of its officials, attached to the fire brigade and the G South Ward.

Boiler explosion at NTPC plant in Raebareli, UP, killed 36

An explosion at the NTPC plant in Raebareli, Uttar Pradesh, on November 1 killed as many as 34 people and injured close to 100 others. This was the country’s worst industrial disaster in the past eight years.

The Power Ministry set up a committee to investigate the cause of the explosion at Feroze Gandhi Thermal Power Plant of NTPC Ltd at Unchahar in Raebareli.

Although an investigation report from the panel is still pending, the probe team of Uttar Pradesh labour department had accused NTPC of ‘gross negligence’ in operating the Unchahar plant.

“We have found the formation and accumulation of clinker in the boiler duct and the lack of its poking as the main reason for the explosion,” deputy director, labour, Jagmohan told Hindustan Times.

“The operating staff showed utter carelessness by not poking the clinker when it was formed, allowing the deposit to accumulate that choked the space for fluid gas to come out, leading to the blast in the boiler duct,” he explained.

A ‘rumour’ led to stampede Mumbai railway station, killing 23 people

On the morning of September 29, the commuters, rushing to work, were crossing the Elphinstone Road railway station (renamed as Prabhadevi Railway Station) when through the foot overbridge (FOB) when “rumours” of the footbridge collapsing led to a deadly stampede.

A total of 23 people were killed in the incident and dozens others were injured. According to eyewitnesses, the stampede was triggered by rumours of the FOB collapsing, a short-circuit, and broken stairs, at a time when approximately 9,000 commuters were using the bridge. 

Several warnings of possibility of a disaster occurring at the 30-year-old footbridge were issued, but no step was taken. In the past one year, many commuters had taken to Twitter to voice their concerns about the FOB, tagging both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the then railway minister Suresh Prabhu.

Last year, Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant even wrote to Prabhu calling for repairs on the bridge. Replying to his letter, Prabhu had given his assurance that the FOB would be extended and widened and even sanctioned Rs 11.86 crore for the same. Ironically, the Railways uploaded tenders for extension of the FOB on the day of the accident.

While the locals blamed the Railways for the deadly accident, the five-member inquiry panel led by Western Railway's Chief Safety Officer SK Singla claimed that ‘unexpected heavy rain’ caused the stampede.

20-day-old child, 33 others died when 117-yr-old building collapsed in Mumbai

As many as 34 people died when a 117-year-old building collapsed in congested Bhendi Bazaar area in south Mumbai on August 31. The dead included 24 men, nine women and a 20-day-old child, police said.

The three-storey Husaini building was among the 791 structures listed as dangerous in Mumbai’s municipal corporation. The building was declared unsafe in 2011, according to an NDTV report.

A housing trust, which was looking to redevelop the area, had offered alternative accommodation to people residing in the Husaini building. However, not all vacated their homes as they were not provided details of the new housing, a resident had said.

Over 200 children, mostly infants, died at BRD Medical College in UP

As of September, as many as 1,317 children, mostly infants, died at state-run Baba Raghav Das (BRD) Medical College hospital in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh. According to hospital records, in January 152 children died, in February 122, March 159, April 123, May 139, June 137, July 128 and August 325, besides in September 32 children have died so far.

Most of the deaths occurred due to alleged disruption in the supply of liquid oxygen. There was disruption in oxygen supply as bills were not paid to the supplier Pushpa Sales. The supplier had written several letters to BRD medical college warning to cut off oxygen supply if dues were not cleared.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had blamed the former college principal, Dr Rajiv Mishra, for laxity in performing his duty.

Mishra, however, said he had written at least three or four letters to the Uttar Pradesh medical education department in July, seeking the release of Rs 2 crore allocated to the college. He said the delay in clearance of funds from the government led to the deaths in the hospital.





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