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Posted at: Aug 13, 2017, 1:59 AM; last updated: Aug 13, 2017, 1:38 PM (IST)

Principal quits, UP says death of 30 kids ‘routine’

Gorakhpur college head denies lack of oxygen to blame

Opposition asks Yogi to step down

  • The BSP on Saturday asked Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to step down. Its leader Sudhindra Bhadouria accused the CM of neglecting the health sector completely
  • Former CM Akhilesh Yadav said the govt was “hiding facts”. He said a Samajwadi Party delegation would visit Gorakhpur. He sought Rs 20 lakh each for the bereaved families.
  • Describing the deaths as an act of cold-blooded murder, Congress leaders said CM Adityanath was focusing on “other matters” rather than governance.

Shahira Naim

Tribune News Service

Lucknow, August 12

The principal of Gorakhpur’s Baba Raghav Das (BRD) Medical College, Rajiv Mishra, has been suspended with immediate effect for “irresponsible behaviour” in not being prompt with making payments to the company supplying oxygen to the hospital. Uttar Pradesh’s Minister for Medical Education Ashutosh Tandon made this announcement at a press conference after a lengthy review meeting with doctors and officials concerned.

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Soon after being suspended, Misra announced his resignation. He categorically denied that 30 persons, including 17 newborns, had died in the past few days owing to disruption in oxygen supply. Hospital sources said there had been 60 deaths since August 7, including that of 34 newborns and 12 suffering from acute encephalitis syndrome (AES). 

The minister announced a probe committee under the Chief Secretary to fix responsibility as to why the supplier — Pushpa Sales Private Ltd — was not paid till August 11 when money had been released by the government on August 5 following the supplier’s letter dated August 1. “The offices of the supplier in Lucknow are being raided. The authorities are contemplating punitive action against the company for stopping the supply of something as essential as oxygen,” said Tandon.

However, Health Minister Siddharth Nath Singh reiterated that the deaths were routine and not owing to shortage of oxygen. “After reviewing the previous years’ data on AES cases at the BRD Medical College in the month of August, it appears that the 23 deaths reported on August 11 were not out of the ordinary,” he maintained. To substantiate his point, he quoted casualty figures for the month of August in the last three years.

“In 2014, at least 567 children died, which is 19 deaths a day. In 2015, the toll was 668, an average of 22 deaths per day. In 2016, the toll was 587, which comes to 19.5 children per day,” he said. “Though the state government does not wish to undermine the enormity of the problem, it would not be correct to correlate the recent deaths with oxygen disruption,” he held. Claiming that backup cylinders were immediately put to use and there were enough in stock, he pointed out that the 950-bed hospital catered not only to Gorakhpur, but adjoining districts and neighbouring Bihar and Nepal too.

“As Primary Health Centres (PHCs) and Community Health Centres (CHCs) are not equipped to handle such cases, patients approach the BRD Hospital when in advanced stages of illness. Hence, the mortality rate is high,” Singh reasoned.

Meanwhile, terming his resignation as pre-decided, the suspended principal claimed that payments were duly made to the oxygen suppliers.“The deaths were due to encephalitis, not lack of oxygen,” he claimed.


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