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Delhi govt orders safety audit at city hospitals

The Delhi government will soon start a structural safety audit of all hospitals falling under its jurisdiction to ensure that the buildings are fit for occupancy by staff and patients, government officials aware of the matter said. The officials said the audit will also assess the damage caused by monsoon activities and regular wear-and-tear, and remedial action will be recommended accordingly.

“The process will be long because every aspect of the hospital plans will be examined. The audit will assess structural safety of the buildings, check the fire safety measures and also examine the seismic stability of hospitals and its ancillary buildings,” said a senior official, requesting anonymity.

A third-party has been roped in to carry out the audit for the government, which will submit its report on its findings.

The officials said they have also asked for similar audits to be conducted by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and private hospitals.

The decision seems to have been prompted by the recent collapse of a portion of the parapet in the MCD-run Hindu Rao Hospital, but the officials said the plan to conduct the audit has been in the pipeline for the last year.

“Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the plan got delayed. Our major hospitals were all dedicated to Covid management and the footfall was also high so the plan was delayed. Post monsoon, the audit will begin,” the official quoted above said.

In 2020, a public interest litigation (PIL) filed in the Delhi high court claimed that the structural stability of buildings in the city was poor, and a major earthquake or other disaster could result in high casualties. In response to the PIL, the Delhi government had told the court that they have prepared a detailed action plan for carrying out a safety audit of all government buildings in the city, giving priority to hospitals, schools and spaces which deal with large gatherings. Private building owners were also asked to conduct such audits and submit their reports.

Doctors working in the city’s government institutions said that this move would help ensure the safety of patients and doctors.

“Many of the old buildings are dilapidated and in extremely bad shape. Especially around the monsoon, we see portions of the parapet or roof fall but since there is no injury or loss of life, we conveniently brush it aside. We cannot keep waiting for a bigger mishap to happen to take some action,” said a senior resident doctor at the Delhi government-run Lok Nayak Hospital. Hindustan Times

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