Andhra Pradesh’s Chittoor district c ollector had insisted that 11 Covid patients died at Ruia hospital after disruption in oxygen in May 2021. (ANI Photo) (ANI)
Andhra Pradesh’s Chittoor district c ollector had insisted that 11 Covid patients died at Ruia hospital after disruption in oxygen in May 2021. (ANI Photo) (ANI)

AP govt said 11 died due to oxygen at Tirupati hospital, gives compensation to 23

According to a letter by Chittoor district collector M Hari Narayanan that has emerged, the government has decided to make ex-gratia payment of 10 lakh each to families of 23 patients, not 11.
UPDATED ON MAY 28, 2021 12:37 AM IST

Hyderabad: The Andhra Pradesh government has given ex-gratia payments to families of 23 Covid-19 patients who died at the Sri Venkata Ramnarayan Ruia (SVRR) Hospital in Tirupati earlier this month, suggesting that the tragedy at the state-run hospital had killed more patients than the government had then acknowledged.

In the days after the hospital in Andhra Pradesh’s Chittoor ran out of oxygen on May 10 night, state officials had insisted that only 11 deaths could be attributed to the disruption of oxygen.

“The oxygen supply was restored within five minutes and everything is now normal. Because of this we could prevent more casualties,” Chittoor district collector M Hari Narayanan said on May 10.

But in a letter that he sent on May 19 - the letter was made public by senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader and former member of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams G Bhanu Prakash Reddy - the district collector appears to concede that apart from the 11 patients declared dead on the night of May 10 due to low pressure in liquid oxygen supply at the hospital, 12 other Covid-19 patients had also died.

In the letter, the collector said the state government had released ex gratia of 10 lakh each to the families of these 12 patients too and directed the revenue division officer to send the cheques to families of six of them living in Tirupati.

BJP leader G Bhanu Prakash Reddy said the letter establishes that the opposition was making a fair point. “Right from the day of the incident, we have been saying that the number of Covid-19 patients who died at SVRR Hospital was much more than what was disclosed by the collector on the fateful night. Now, our charges have proved correct,” Reddy said.

The district collector could not be reached for comment. But SVRR Hospital development committee chairman B Chandrasekhar said not all of them died due to low-pressure in oxygen supply.

“There were some other deaths due to Covid-19 and other reasons on the same night. And their relatives claimed that these patients also died of short supply of oxygen and demanded compensation. As a result, the government considered their plea and directed that all such families should also be paid compensation,” he said.

The BJP leader, who wrote a letter to Governor Biswa Bhushan Harichandan and also filed a public interest litigation petition in the high court on May 11 to seek a thorough probe into the incident, alleged that the government tried to hush up the incident and blame it on the delay in transportation of oxygen from Sriperumbudur to the hospital.

“Now, by paying the compensation to 23 people, the government has admitted that the deaths on May 10 night were underreported,” Reddy added.

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