Chidambaram slams Goa govt’s ‘clean chit’ to itself over oxygen deaths

As many as 84 people died at the Goa Medical College and Hospital between May 10 and 14 amid interruptions in oxygen supply
P Chidambaram, who is the Congress’s election observer for poll-bound Goa, called for chief minister Pramod Sawant and health minister Vishwajit Rane’s resignations. (PTI Photo)
P Chidambaram, who is the Congress’s election observer for poll-bound Goa, called for chief minister Pramod Sawant and health minister Vishwajit Rane’s resignations. (PTI Photo)
Published on Oct 18, 2021 12:32 PM IST
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ByGerard de Souza

Former Union minister P Chidambaram on Monday slammed an expert committee’s report on oxygen shortage and related deaths in Goa during the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic this summer as “a desperate attempt to give a clean chit” to the state’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government.

“The Hospital is blamed but the government is not to be blamed! Strange logic in respect of a government-OWNED hospital!” Chidambaram tweeted on Monday. “Why does the Goa government have a Department of Health and a Minister of Health, if they are not responsible?”

Chidambaram, who is the Congress’s election observer for poll-bound Goa, called for chief minister Pramod Sawant and health minister Vishwajit Rane’s resignations.

As many as 84 people died at the Goa Medical College and Hospital between May 10 and 14 amid interruptions in oxygen supply.

The three-member committee’s report said the hospital administration failed to flag the issue in time. But it concluded the deaths could not attribute to the shortage of oxygen. The committee insisted it did not find anything unusual in the number of deaths as compared to the other days.

The Goa Association of Resident Doctors first flagged the issue of oxygen shortage on May 3. After the high court took up the matter, Rane called for a probe into the deaths.

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The committee said there were reports of “pressure drops during the changeover of empty (cylinder) trolleys”. It added this caused panic among patients and health care workers, but they “could not conclude that such intermittent incidents of drop in pressure were long enough to cause loss of life.” Experts say low levels of saturation can cause deaths.

The committee was initially expected to give its report in three days on May 15. But a member of the panel had to be replaced after he took ill. This delayed the panel’s report until July 23.

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Wednesday, December 01, 2021