HC orders Rs 2 lakh for kin of jaundice victims

SHIMLA: The High Court today awarded Rs 2 lakh as interim compensation to legal representatives of those who died of jaundice.

editorial@tribune.com

Vijay Arora

Shimla, February 25

The High Court today awarded Rs 2 lakh as interim compensation to legal representatives of those who died of jaundice.

It further directed the state to deposit the amount with this court within four weeks.

Passing the direction, a Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir and Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan observed, “Water is a gift of God and it is the duty of everyone to maintain its sanctity. It is unfortunate that some persons/officers are playing with the gift of God and because of their negligence, the water becomes contaminated, which has affected the public.”

Coming down heavily on state functionaries, the Bench directed the Chief Secretary and the Secretary (IPH Department) to furnish the details of all those officers who had been manning the posts since 2007 from the Chief Engineer up to the peon. It further sought the details of the amount released in favour of the contractor of the sewage treatment plant (STP) and the procedure followed and names of the officers, who had passed those bills.

Apart from this, the court also directed them to furnish the details of those died of jaundice and who were undertreatment.

The court has also taken note on the information furnished by the IPH Secretary in the status report and observed, “Why action will not be drawn against her for making incorrect/contradictory statements. Is she trying to shield her predecessors and subordinate officers or rather is trying to mislead the court.”

The court also sought explanation from the Chief Secretary and the Secretary (Urban Local Bodies). Asking for explanation, it observed, “They were supposed to have information being the head of the institutions and to ascertain whether the STPs were being maintained properly. Further, they were supposed to see whether the officers concerned were discharging their duties properly and the directions had been complied with. Prima facie, it appears that they have failed to do so. Had they passed the requisite orders, there would not have been jaundice outbreak. Their failure can be seen in terms of the orders made by them whereby the lift water supply scheme from the Ashwani Khud stands closed. They are directed to explain by filing affidavits.”

The court also issued show-cause notice to Vineet Kumar, Member Secretary, State Pollution Control Board, and two engineers of the IPH Department why they should not be prosecuted for filing false affidavits before this court and for misleading it by filing contradictory reports.

The court also directed the Special Investigation Team to take the investigations to its logical end by pinpointing who were the officers from 2007 responsible. The court passed these orders on a petition taken up suo motu on the news item published regarding the contaminated water supply in the city.

2 patients critical at IGMC

The condition of two jaundice patients at Indira Gandhi Medical College (IGMC) is stated to be critical while eight new cases were reported today. With this, the number of cases has reached 1,592.

Indira Gandhi Medical College doctors said they might refer the patients to the PGI if their condition did not improve.

“The patients are from the city,” said Dr Ramesh Chand, Senior Medical Superintendent, IGMC.

Babli Thakur (24), who had delivered a baby at Kamla Nehra Hospital, died of jaundice at the IGMC on February 22, said the IGMC officials.

The state diseases surveillance wing has put the death toll at eight while the two other patients who succumbed to jaundice at the PGI belonged to Kangra district. Seven fresh cases were reported from Solan, taking the total number to 578, said health officials.

State diseases surveillance officer Dr Rakesh Bhardwaj said: “We cannot attribute the death of two patients who died at the PGI to jaundice.”— TNS

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