Free Press Journal

UP govt denies lack of oxygen led to deaths, but suspends hospital super


DIFFERENT TUNE Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath says lack of cleanliness is to be blamed for the tragedy, but ground reports suggest negligence of medical college

Gorakhpur/Allahabad/Lucknow : Even as a magisterial probe is underway into the death of over 60 children, including infants, at the Baba Raghav Das Medical College Hospital in Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur, chief minister Yogi Adityanath on Saturday blamed lack of cleanliness for the tragedy.

Addressing a gathering in Allahabad, Adityanath said the death of these children in his constituency was caused by filth and the scourge of open defecation. “There are vector-borne diseases, such as encephalitis, you must be hearing media reports of BRD medical college these days…it is a tragedy that lives of young children have been snuffed out at such young age because we do not lead a clean and hygienic life,” he said while reminding the crowd that the disease has been the bane of eastern Uttar Pradesh since 1978.

Siddharth Nath Singh, the state health minister, too, said that there have been no deaths due to lack of oxygen supply, but did concede there was a problem in supply of liquid oxygen for four hours on August 10 which was made up by the system switching to cylinders.

The UP chief minister’s comment came even while his government suspended the principal of BRD Medical College for his “irresponsible act” of allegedly delaying payments to the oxygen supplier, which led to the death of the infants, UP’s state Health Education Minister Ashutosh Tandon told reporters. He added that a probe, led by the chief secretary, had also been ordered.

Tandon said that “stringent action” would be taken against those responsible for the tragedy after the probe panel submitted its report. “Till then, we are suspending the principal of Baba Raghav Das Medical College with immediate effect.”

The minister said on August 1, the dealer (oxygen supplier) had written a letter to the principal of the medical college, Dr Rajiv Mishra, demanding payment of an outstanding amount. “The letter was forwarded to the DG’s (Director-General, Medical Education) office. On August 5, the payment was made to the medical college and the amount was credited to its account on August 7,” he added.

Stating that the dealer claimed that his dues were cleared only on August 11, Tandon said, “Why was there a delay in payment, why the supply of oxygen was stopped – these aspects will be probed by the panel.”

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath informed through his official Twitter handle that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had sought information about the tragedy and on his instructions, Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda and Union Minister of State for Health Anupriya Patel had also inquired about it. He added that Patel would visit BRD Medical College to take stock of the situation.