Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Union Health Minister J P Nadda on Sunday visited Gorakhpur’s Baba Raghav Das Medical College Hospital after over 70 children died while undergoing treatment.
A four-year-old boy suffering from encephalitis died on Sunday, taking the total death toll to 72 in the last six days. According to news agency ANI, 11 children died on Saturday and until Friday the death toll stood at 60.
While the recent deaths are being blamed on the possible disruption of oxygen supply in medical wards, the state government ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident on Saturday.
UP Health Minister Sidhartha Nath Singh, however, said the oxygen supply went down on August 10, but the situation was brought under control within a few hours. He added that none of the deaths took place during the window of crisis.
“Around 7.30 pm on August 10, the supply of liquid oxygen became low and the meter started beeping but it was met by oxygen cylinders. But this system worked only until 11.30 pm… Supply through cylinders was not sufficient until about 1.30 am on August 11, but after that supply resumed,” he said.
After suspending college hospital principal Rajeev Mishra for allegedly delaying the release of payment to oxygen supplier, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said that he has asked a team of top ministers to determine if the death of the children was actually due to a disruption in oxygen supply at the hospital and assured to “not spare anyone found guilty”.
“We have suspended the principal of the BRD Medical College and taking him guilty for his actions and an investigation on him has already been ordered and is underway. Those found guilty won’t be spared,” he said while addressing a news conference in Lucknow on Saturday.
He had earlier blamed lack of cleanliness and polluted groundwater for the breakout of Japanese encephalitis in the region.
Meanwhile, the Yogi-led government is facing criticism from opposition parties, with Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav and BSP Chief Mayawati alleging negligence. Congress vice-President Rahul Gandhi also blamed the BJP government of negligence and demanded action.