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Gorakhpur deaths: Supply of liquid oxygen to resume tonight after Adityanath govt makes partial payment

Officials at Lucknow-based Pushpa Sales, the biggest of three oxygen suppliers to the BRD Medical College, said Rs 21 lakh had been credited to the firm.Thirty children died over two days at the hospital reportedly because of a lack of oxygen supply.

india Updated: Aug 12, 2017 16:57 IST
Gaurav Saigal
Gaurav Saigal
Hindustan Times, Gorakhpur
Gorakhpur,BRD Medical College,Yogi Adityanath
View of a ward at the Baba Raghav Das Medical College Hospital in Gorakhpur on Friday. (PTI)

The supply of oxygen to a tragedy-struck Gorakhpur hospital will resume on Saturday night after the government-run institution partially cleared its dues, following nationwide outrage over the deaths of 30 children allegedly of lack of oxygen.

Officials at Lucknow-based Pushpa Sales, the biggest of three oxygen suppliers to Baba Raghav Das Medical College in Gorakhpur, said a truck full of oxygen cylinders would reach the hospital by night and that Rs 21 lakh had been credited to the firm.

The company – which was the only one supplying liquid oxygen to the hospital -- allegedly cut off supplies on August 1 after authorities defaulted on payment of Rs 68 lakh.

“The fault is not ours. As per our agreement, credit limit cannot exceed Rs 10 lakh but despite this we continued supplying oxygen till it reached about Rs 70 lakh. We also bought oxygen from another firm, which denied supply without advance payment. In such a situation how long could we have continued supplies?” said Deepankar Sharma, owner of Pushpa Sales.

The deaths of the children in a span of 48 hours shocked the country and triggered a political storm with opposition parties attacking the government.

Chief minister Yogi Adityanath had visited the BRD Medical College – including the 100-bed encephalitis ward – on August 9 and also held a review meeting with top health officials. But officials said he wasn’t aware of the payment problems and suspension of oxygen supply by one of the suppliers.

“We have called for liquid oxygen tanker from Rajasthan – the place from where we get the supply for medical college,” said Manish Bhandari, an employee at Pushpa.

The agency said it was sending reminders to the BRD Hospital management since February, mentioning they would be forced to stop supply of oxygen if payments were not cleared at the earliest. Pushpa Sales has been supplying liquid oxygen to BRD Medical College for the last three years.

Baba Raghav Das Medical College is infamous for high mortality rate, especially of children suffering from Japanese encephalitis. This phase of the year (July-October) is crucial as majority of the cases are reported at this time. “The incident hints at the practice of commission which is realised for releasing payments. This should be probed,” said Raghvendra Pratap Singh, a Gorakhpur-based social worker. He said delay in payment was common but not to such extent that deaths start taking place.

First Published: Aug 12, 2017 16:10 IST