Delhi hospital blaze: Fire started from generator on terrace, spread after oxygen cylinder blast, suspect police


PTI, May 29, 2024, 8:09 PM IST

Aftermath of the blaze at Baby Care New Born Child Hospital (Credit: PTI)

New Delhi: The Delhi Police suspects that the deadly fire at the neonatal hospital in Vivek Vihar started from a short circuit in a generator on its terrace and then intensified after an oxygen cylinder kept next to it exploded.

Six newborns were killed and five seriously injured in the fire that ripped through the two-storeyed Baby Care New Born Child Hospital and also spread to two adjacent buildings on Saturday night.

“Our forensic science team has inspected the building and the surrounding area in its multiple visits there. It also spoke to locals. The probe into the incident shows that the fire likely started due to a short circuit in the generator on the terrace and an oxygen cylinder, kept close to it, then exploded,” a senior police officer privy to the investigation said.

Citing findings of the probe, the officer said that to save cost, hospital owner Naveen Khichi, an MD in paediatric medicine, had employed three BAMS (Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery) degree holders who were not qualified or competent to treat newborns in need of neonatal intensive care.

Kichi, an MD in Paediatric Medicine, who has been arrested, was the only qualified doctor at the hospital, which he ran along with his wife Dr Jagriti, a dentist, the officer added.

“Kichi used to pay these doctors around Rs 40,000 a month. He was doing this to save cost. We have asked the three doctors, nurses and paramedical staff of the hospital to submit their certificates,” the officer said.

Police have also written to the Delhi fire department, Municipal Corporation of Delhi and the Delhi government’s Directorate General of Health Services ascertain if the hospital was following all norms and had the relevant permissions to function, including no-objection certificates and licences.

“Letters have already been issued and after getting replies from the departments concerned, we will further intensify our investigation. Our teams will also visit Jaipur to know where the doctor was hiding after fleeing from Delhi soon after he came to know about the incident,” the officer said.

On Sunday, police said they arrested Khichi and Dr Aaksh, who was on duty at the time of the incident.

The officer said that teams will also check records, certificates and documents of the hospital’s centres in Punjabi Bagh, Faridabad and Gurugram.

Till now in their probe, police have found that the Vivek Vihar hospital was functioning in violation of provisions of the Nursing Homes Registration (Amendment) Rules, 2011, the officer said.

Under the 2011 rules, “there should be a minimum gap of 4.65 sqm between every bed in a hospital and one nurse for every bed. Both these rules were being flouted”, according to findings of the probe.

“It is also mandatory for the RMO (resident medical officer) of every hospital to have an MBBS degree holder doctor. But at the Baby Care New Born Child Hospital, the RMO had a BAMS degree,” another police officer said, adding that three nurses were attending to 12 infants on the day of the incident.

Khichi has been booked under various Indian Penal Code sections, including 304 (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide).

He did his MBBS from the Maulana Azad Medical College in 2005 and his MD from the Lady Hardinge College in 2009. Kichi completed his residency at the same college and started his private practice at his Paschim Puri residence in 2013.

He launched Baby Care New Born Child Hospital in Vivek Vihar’s B-Block in 2016 before shifting it to its current location in C-Block in the area.

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