Updated: August 23, 2021 5:49:20 pm
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has said in the Assembly that no death due to shortage of oxygen has been reported in the state. He, however, also announced on the floor of the House that a committee will be constituted to “probe the negligence, if any, in such cases of deaths of Covid-19 patients in state’s hospitals”.
Khattar’s response came during the second day of the ongoing Monsoon Session in the state Assembly during which the opposition Congress attempted to corner him alleging that deaths have occurred in the state due to shortage of oxygen supply. Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh raised the issue during the Zero Hour on Monday.
After nearly 40 minutes of heated arguments between Singh Hooda and Khattar, the Haryana CM reiterated that no death has occurred in the state due to oxygen shortage as per government records, but a committee will be formed to see if any case of negligence was involved.
Khattar had earlier said on Friday that no Covid death due to oxygen shortage had been recorded in the state. Objecting to the statement on Monday, Hooda alleged that the CM has “misled the House”. Hooda also said that either Khattar should withdraw his Friday’s statement or assure the House that a high-level committee shall be constituted and all such deaths would be probed.
Citing various media reports, Hooda said the state government was “insensitive” to the issue. He questioned Khattar, the treasury benches and the speaker to ask if they actually believed in their hearts that “no death took place in Haryana due to lack of oxygen supply”.
Although Speaker Gian Chand Gupta quoted rules of Vidhan Sabha proceedings and said that the government or the chief minister were not bound to give an immediate reply on the issues raised during the Zero Hour, Khattar offered to give a detailed statement on the issue on Tuesday.
However, as Hooda and other 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 two magisterial probes into the incidents of Gurgoan and Rewari have concluded that there was no death due to lack of oxygen, there was 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 that time when the incident took place in Soni hospital, the pressure on hospitals was increasing. Against a regular demand of 20 oxygen cylinders, the demand had increased to 80-90 oxygen cylinders,” Khattar said citing the conclusions from the magisterial probe reports.
He added, “Some hospitals yet kept on admitting patients beyond their capacity. In this particular incident of Soni hospital, the SDM in his report 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 against all those who were found negligent.”
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”.
The Opposition, however, expressed dissatisfaction with the CM’s reply and demanded that he should assure the House that the state government shall probe all deaths that are alleged to have taken place due to lack of oxygen supply.
Khattar again quoted figures and said that till date, there were approximately 13,000 deaths due to Covid in Haryana. Out of these deaths, approximately 9,500 were of people from Haryana 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.
However, the Opposition kept on insisting that the state government should constitute a high-level committee for probing if any Covid patient had died due to lack of oxygen supply. To this, Khattar eventually announced that if the Opposition was not satisfied, he would constitute a committee to probe if negligence led to any of the Covid deaths.
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