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After deaths, war of words between Chamarajanagar and Mysuru DCs; govt appoints retired HC judge to probe case

The district commissioner of Chamarajanagar Dr MR Ravi has issued a statement blaming his Mysuru counterpart Rohini Sindhuri for the deaths, which he said occurred due to "enormous delay in supply" of the oxygen. Mysuru DC Rohini Sindhuri said that she neither rationed nor controlled oxygen supplies to Chamarajanagar district.

Written by Darshan Devaiah BP | Bengaluru |
Updated: May 5, 2021 9:31:16 pm
Covid-19Relatives grieve after 24 Covid-19 patients died allegedly due to shortage of oxygen, in Chamarajanagar district of Karnataka (PTI)

Days after 23 people died allegedly due to lack of oxygen supply in a district hospital in Karnataka’s Chamarajanagar district, a war of words has started between district commissioners of the Mysuru and Chamarajanagar. The state government has appointed a retired high court judge to probe the case.

The district commissioner of Chamarajanagar Dr MR Ravi has issued a statement blaming his Mysuru counterpart Rohini Sindhuri for the deaths, which he said occurred due to “enormous delay in supply” of the oxygen.  “This tragedy could have been averted if Mysuru had given the oxygen on time. This has been going on for a week to 10 days now. I had also informed the Chief Secretary and district in-charge minister regarding this. Even the nodal officers and the team handling distribution of oxygen were informed of the shortage,” he said.

In his allegation against Sindhuri, he also said that statements by the Mysuru district administration show that they were trying to “mislead” the people. “Mysuru district administration has said that they had 250 cylinders but I received only 50 cylinders at 2:20 am from Mysuru. If I had the 250 cylinders that they claim, why would the people die?” he questioned.

“This is not a recent affair or an overnight scenario. On Monday, it was an extreme situation. For the past 10 days, my district officers would go and wait in Mysuru for oxygen cylinders Even when they got them, they would bring the cylinders only with permission from the district authorities. I have already asked the District Commissioner of Mysuru to instruct the Mysuru district administration not to interfere in matters of our district,” he added.

On Wednesday, Deputy Commissioner of Mysuru Rohini Sindhuri said that she neither rationed nor controlled oxygen supplies to Chamarajanagar district.

Issuing clarifications on allegations of her not allotting oxygen supply on time to Chamarajanagar, Sindhuri said, “The matter is under enquiry as per orders issued by the state government. However, the Chamarajnagar Deputy Commissioner, without waiting for the enquiry to be completed, continues to make false allegations in the media against the Deputy Commissioner of Mysuru.”

She added, “I categorically state that as Deputy Commissioner Mysuru I did not ration or control oxygen supplies to Chamarajanagar or any other district. The oxygen supplies to a district are entirely decided between the supplier/re-filler and the district. Another Deputy Commissioner has no role or authority in the same. Moreover, it is the responsibility of the district to manage its own oxygen supplies. If any supplier does not supply or district needs are not met, then supervision and correction is done by the state-level officers. The DC of Chamarajnagar should have coordinated with these officers and got his supplies. He failed to do that and is now blaming the Mysuru DC.”

She further said, “As a matter of fact, Mysuru district, upon emergency request from Chamarajnagar, took out 40 oxygen cylinders out of its own district hospital on the night of  May 1 and sent them to Chamarajnagar. All these facts will be proved in the enquiry that is already underway.”

The clarification by Sindhuri was also followed by a statement issued by the Deputy Drugs Controller, Mysuru Region with the details of the oxygen supplied to Chamarajanagar Institute of Medical Sciences from refillers in Mysuru.

The statement by Deputy Drugs Controller said a total of 251 cylinders had been despatched between 10.20 am of May 2 and 3.15 am of May 3.

Karnataka government appoints retired high court judge to probe incident

Meanwhile, the Karnataka government Wednesday appointed retired Karnataka High Court judge Justice BA Patil as a part of a one-man commission to carry out an enquiry into the 23 deaths in Chamarajanagar district hospital allegedly due to oxygen shortage on May 3.

The commission will submit its report within one month, the order stated.

Earlier, the district sessions court judge Sadashiva S. Sultanpuri visited the hospital to take stock of the situation and also spoke to the Chamarajanagar district commissioner MR Ravi.

The families of the patients who lost their lives have alleged that the deaths occurred because of a shortage of medical oxygen at the facility. The state government has claimed only three of the deaths occurred due to this reason.

Justice Patil’s appointment comes a day after the Karnataka High Court said the Chamarajanagar tragedy is a fit case for an enquiry by a retired high court judge.

The Karnataka government earlier had ordered a probe into the matter and appointed senior IAS officer Shivayogi Kalasad as the inquiry officer.

The Commission of Inquiry headed by Justice Patil will be based out of Mysuru, according to state government order. According to the notification issued on Wednesday, the commission “shall exercise all the powers under Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952 and under the Code of Civil procedure to conduct an inquiry into the above incidents”.

The notification has also stated that the deputy commissioners of Mysuru and Chamarajanagar will immediately hand over all documents and material evidence to the Commissioner of Health and Family Welfare, who will submit them to the inquiry commission.

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