Gorakhpur tragedy: NHRC criticises Uttar Pradesh govt
The NHRC criticised the Uttar Pradesh government for its “gross callousness” and demanded a report on the death of at least 64 children at BRD Medical College, even as five more children died at the state-run facility on Monday.
The deaths have caused nationwide outrage. The opposition is gunning for chief minister Yogi Adityanath, refusing to buy his argument that the children died of encephalitis and not because oxygen supply was cut by a private firm over non-payment of dues.
“This indicates towards gross callousness on part of the hospital administration and the medical education and health departments of the government of Uttar Pradesh,” the National Human Right Commission said.
Uttar Pradesh health minister Siddharth Nath Singh hinted at corruption in the payment for oxygen cylinders at the health facility.
“As against the demand of Rs 68 lakh for the purchase of oxygen cylinders at the hospital...the government released Rs 2 crore on August 5. The hospital administration made a payment of only Rs 11 lakh --- which will be investigated,” he said at an event in Allahabad.
“For a population of 22 crore, health services in UP are not adequate. Please give me eight to ten months to improve the situation,” he said.
Hindustan Times saw three children die at the Baba Raghav Das Medical College on Monday. Parents and relatives told HT that two more infants had died earlier in the day.
The deaths were not confirmed by the hospital as no one was willing to talk to media.
The NHRC, which took note of media reports, asked chief secretary Rajive Kumar to submit within four weeks steps taken for relief and rehabilitation of the affected families as well as the action taken against the guilty officers.
The commission said deaths in such large numbers in a government hospital amounted to violation of right to life and health.
The deaths due to Japanese Encephalitis were discussed with the chief secretary and other officers but despite assurances, the situation had not improved, it said.
A mosquito-borne virus, encephalitis ravages eastern Uttar Pradesh every year and has killed more than 50,000 children in the last 30 years, including nearly 3,000 in BRD medical college since 2012.
A day after Adityanath visited the hospital and promised all help, two children, both diagnosed with acute encephalitis syndrome, were sharing a bed.
Flitting in an out of consciousness, seven-year- old Savan, a resident of the city’s Taramandal area and Aradhya, resident of Campierganj, were on oxygen support.
“I requested the staff for separate beds but they said no beds were vacant due to the large number of admissions. They asked me to take it or leave,” Savan’s uncle Ajit said.
The opposition kept up the pressure on Adityanath and demanded his resignation.
Former chief minister and Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav was in Gorakhpur, the Lok sabha constituency of Adityanath, and met some of the bereaved families. He announced Rs 2 lakh in aide to the families who lost their children and demanded action against the guilty.
UP Congress chief Raj Babbar staged a protest in Gorakhpur, where the opposition’s bandh call didn’t get much response. Most of the shops remained open as SP and Left leaders staged a joint demonstration while Congress activists sat in protest in front of Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in Townhall.
The state government’s decision to sack Dr Kafeel Khan as the nodal officer of paediatrics department, too, came under fire. The resident doctors of AIIMS-Delhi alleged that Khan was made a “scapegoat” for the infrastructural lapses and failure of the government.
The Supreme Court refused to take up a petition asking for its intervention and asked the petitioner, a lawyer, to take his grievances to the Allahabad high court.
“We saw on TV that the health minister has visited the place. Let them handle it,” the court said.
With HTC, agency inputs