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Khattar says panel to probe ‘negligence, if any’ in Covid deaths due to oxygen shortage

Hooda asked CM Khattar, the treasury benches and the Speaker if they actually believed in their hearts that “no such death due to lack of oxygen took place in Haryana”

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh |
Updated: August 24, 2021 8:25:21 am
Khattar’s response came on the second day of the ongoing monsoon session of the Vidhan Sabha after Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh raised the issue during the Zero Hour. (Express photo by Jasbir Malhi)

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar Monday announced in the Vidhan Sabha that a committee will be constituted to “probe the negligence, if any, in cases of deaths of Covid-19 patients” due to lack of oxygen in state’s hospitals. He, however, reiterated that no death due to shortage of oxygen has been reported in the state.

Khattar’s response came on the second day of the ongoing monsoon session of the Vidhan Sabha after Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh raised the issue during the Zero Hour.

In reply to a question on Friday, Khattar informed the House that so far no Covid patient has died due to lack of oxygen in the state. Claiming that the CM has “misled the House”, Hooda said that either Khattar should withdraw his statement or assure the House that a high-level committee shall be constituted and all such deaths would be probed.

Hooda, who cited various media reports, termed the BJP-JJP government as “insensitive” and asked Khattar, the treasury benches and the Speaker if they actually believed in their hearts that “no such death took place in Haryana”.

Speaker Gian Chand Gupta said that the government or the CM were not bound to give an immediate reply on the issues raised during the Zero Hour, bit Khattar offered to give a detailed statement on Tuesday.
However, as Congress leaders kept on insisting, Khattar also issued an interim reply. “There were such incidents reported in Gurgaon, Rewari and Hisar. Magisterial probes were ordered in all three places.

While probes into the incidents of Gurgoan and Rewari have concluded that there was no death due to lack of oxygen, for another incident that took place in Soni Hospital, Hisar, the SDM’s report has blamed hospital administration for negligence behind the death of a few patients there. At the time when the incident took place, against a regular demand of 20 oxygen cylinders at Soni Hospital, the demand had increased to 80-90 cylinders,” Khattar said.

He added, “Some hospitals kept on admitting patients beyond their capacity. For Soni hospital, the SDM has blamed a few doctors who were negligent in their duty. The Board of Doctors has also hinted at negligence on part of the hospital authorities. The report has also reached Superintendent of Police, Hisar. Adequate legal action shall be initiated”.

However, Hooda countered Khattar with a report of the Haryana Human Rights Commission, citing the case of death of a Covid-19 patient, in which the commission had held that “the apparent cause of death was lack of oxygen”.

Khattar again quoted figures and said that till date, there were approximately 13,000 deaths due to Covid in Haryana. Out of these, approximately 9,500 were of people from the state while 3,500 were of individuals from other places who died in Haryana’s hospitals. The CM also elaborated on the procedure that was adopted to ensure availability of adequate oxygen across all the hospitals in the state.
After nearly 40 minutes of heated arguments between Hooda and Khattar, the Haryana CM reiterated that state government’s records did not show any death due to oxygen shortage, but added that a committee will be formed to investigate if there was any case of negligence.

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