Within 24 hours of a fire accident claiming more than 10 lives in a Covid facility run by a private hospital in AP’s Vijayawada, fixing accountability at the top most level, the local police has arrested 3 persons of Ramesh Hospitals including the Chief Operating Officer for neglecting the pertinent needs of electrical repairs, which could have been instrumental in averting the accident, in an unprecedented development.

A committee led by Joint Collector, L. Siva Shankar IAS has been tasked with the responsibility executing an administrative enquiry into accident to determine whether the accident or the damage caused by the same could be evaded if the authorities had been more diligent. The committee has been asked to submit a report within 48 hours.

It is important to note that permission to convert the private hotel (Swarna) into a Covid facility was accorded to the private hospital ( Ramesh Hospital) in question based on the guidelines issued by the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare in April, 2020 which clearly said that ,’ The Covid Care Centres are makeshift facilities. These maybe setup in hostels, hotels, schools, stadiums,lodges both public and private’ – 3(1.2) – from the document of guidelines. The letter according permission to the private hospital to make this facility at Swarna Hotel operational, clearly states that the management has agreed to follow all the Government guidelines issued concerning the same.

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While investigating the accident and all relevant angles concerning the same, the incident commander and Tahsildar of Vijayawada Central unearthed some major lapses from the hospital management’s end. In a complaint to the SHO, Governor pet, the Tahsildar has clearly stated that , ‘ It appears that Hotel Swarna Palace and Ramesh Hospitals had knowledge of that there were electrical defects in the lodge, and as rectification of defects involved huge amounts, avoided the repairs’ . The complaint also says, ‘ Knowing the fact that , if the defects were not rectified , there is a possibility of shortage of electricity, they opened the Covid-19 centre at the Sawrna hotel ‘

The complaint further goes onto incriminate the hospital authorities when it says , ‘ The incident occurred because of the Hotel and Hospital managements not taking the necessary precautions and preventive measures , resulting in the death of 10 citizens’.

It was based on this complaint from the Tahsildar of Vijayawada Central who also happens to be the incident commander that the police booked a case against the managements of Swarna Hotel and Ramesh Hospitals under sections 304 (II), 308 r/w 34 of IPC. Within 24 hours of an FIR being lodged, on Monday, the local police arrested 3 top rank officials of the hospital who are directly responsible for ensuring that the safety of patients being treated at the facility is taken care of.

Details of the accused:

1.Dr Kodali Raja Gopala Rao -Chief Operating Officer(Ramesh Hospitals Ltd) who gave the requisition on behalf of Ramesh hospitals Ltd to the Collector for permission to start paid Covid care centre and on whose name the permission was issued by the DMHO

2.Dr Kurapati Sudarshan General Manager Vijayawada- Overall Incharge of the Swarna Palace paid Covid care centre from Ramesh Hospitals Ltd

3.Pallabothu Venkatesh -Night manager of Swarna Palace paid Covid care centre from Ramesh Hospitals Ltd, who slept in the restaurant instead of being alert. Had he been alert, damage might have been mitigated.

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