While the setback space is one of the most important factors hospitals should consider for evacuations, the inspections revealed that hospitals were too cramped and paid no heed to the need for a setback space.
“Setback space is where ambulances, sky lift cranes, and other rescue vehicles can pass through to reach the building that has been affected by a disaster and help the evacuation process. It cannot be so close to the building,” said Jawaharlal Shanmugam, an activist who has been fighting cases in this regard.
Stating that the space should be seven and nine metres at the turning, he added, “Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital (RGGGH) is cramped and they have constructed the towers and the new block without proper planning.”
“The setback spaces should be free of dustbins, generators, chambers to sewage drains, motors, pipeline, parking of two-wheelers, etc.,” he said.
According to the report, a number of private hospitals, including Fortis Malar Hospital and Apollo Hospitals on Greams Road, have flouted rules. “They have constructed compound walls and buildings with hardly two to three feet of space between them. The regulator shouldn’t have given permission for the hospital when there is no space for a 45-tonne sky lift crane to operate,” opined the activists.
A setback space should be made out of concrete. The pathway should be strong enough to withstand even a 45-tonne vehicle. Those few hospitals with a setback space have either not paved it right or have decorated it with barriers, gardens, or have used it for parking.
“Parking of two-wheelers is the most common problem in most hospitals. Of the 58 hospitals I inspected in the city, very few have adhered to the basic rules. I had inspected 15 teaching hospitals. The setback space was very good at Saveetha Medical College and Hospital. Sri Ramachandra Medical College and Hospital also has less space,” he said.
Speaking to DT Next, an official at the RGGGH, said, “We are taking steps to introduce changes as per the rules in case of any disaster and will carry them out slowly.”