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Gorakhpur BRD Hospital deaths: ‘Govt released funds for oxygen dues on Aug 5, bill paid on Aug 11’

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While rejecting reports of lack of oxygen supply being the reason behind the deaths, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said that that a committee has been set up under the Chief Secretary to go into the gas supplier’s role and other lapses…

The principal of Gorakhpur’s Baba Raghav Das (BRD) medical college, facing flak over the death of over 60 children allegedly due to lack oxygen supply, was suspended on Saturday on grounds of negligence and administrative lapses relating to delayed payment to the gas supplier.

The funds to clear the oxygen supplier’s dues was transferred to the latter only on Friday, after the deaths grabbed the nation’s attention.

While rejecting reports of lack of oxygen supply being the reason behind the deaths, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said that that a committee has been set up under the Chief Secretary to go into the gas supplier’s role and other lapses.The supplier’s demand for dues to the tune of Rs 65 lakh reached the state government at Lucknow on August 1, and the funds were released to the college on August 5, a Times of India report cited official sources as saying.

Adityanath also said that during his review meeting in Gorakhpur on August 9, he had asked officials if there were any issues or they required any help from the government but was told that there were none.

The Chief Minister said that he himself had visited the BRD medical college on July 9 and August 9 to himself look at the situation but was not informed of any shortage, including of oxygen.

On August 8, the supplier, Pushpa Sales, had communicated to the hospital that it would soon suspend the supplies due to unpaid dues.

“INOX, the firm we are taking oxygen supply from, has expressed inability to continue the supply of oxygen in future, in case we fail to make payments to them,” the letter from Dipankar Sharma of Pushpa Sales to the college principal was quoted by Times of India as saying.

Despite the supplier’s reported threat to stop the oxygen supply, the district administration did not bother to react in a timely manner. ccording to the report, low oxygen was reported at the hospital on August 10, around 7:30 pm. This led to the supply for patients being switched from the central system to cylinders. Thereafter the cylinders began to run out, forcing staff to adopt emergency measures such as using hand pumps to aid ventilators. Supply of cylinders was restored around 11.30 and situation stabilised around 1.30am.

Expressing his sympathies to the bereaved families, Adityanath said that encephalitis was a big challenge for the state government as well as an emotional issue for him as he have been waging a war against it since 1998.

He also said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had enquired about the situation and assured all central help. The Union Health Secretary was in Gorakhpur, he said, adding that Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda and his Minister of State were monitoring the situation as well.

Meanwhile, citing figures, Siddharth Nath Singh said that 567 deaths occurred in August 2014 at a daily average of 19, 668 deaths in 2015 in the same month with a daily average of 22 and 587 deaths in August 2016 with a daily average of about 20, but the state government taken steps to improve health services in the last three months and there had been a reduction in fatalities.

“In August this year up to the 11, 133 deaths have occurred,” he said.

Also denying the shortage of oxygen or disruption of the central oxygen plant had lead to the deaths of children, including infants, he attributed the deaths to some being underweight, early delivery, sepsis, pneumonia and other infections. A few deaths, he added, happened due to encephalitis as well.

Medical Education Minister Ashutosh Tandon said pending payments of the vendor supplying oxygen were cleared on August 5 and funds sent to the BRD medical college, but it was “surprising” that Principal Rajeev Mishra did not release it till August 11.

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