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Sabotage, says engineer in complaint to Jammu cops: 14 patients in ward, hospital loses O2 supply for 8 mins

According to health bulletin issued by the administration on June 16 and 19 evening, there was one Covid-related death in GMC Hospital on both days. It is not known whether there is any link with the brief oxygen snag.

Written by Arun Sharma | Jammu |
Updated: June 23, 2021 7:06:34 am
Fourteen Covid-19 patients at an isolation ward of GMC Hospital here had a miraculous escape last week when oxygen supply to them was switched off for approximately eight minutes. (Express file photo)

Fourteen Covid-19 patients at an isolation ward of Government Medical College (GMC) Hospital here had a miraculous escape last week when oxygen supply to them was switched off for approximately eight minutes, in what the mechanical engineer concerned said in a complaint to police was likely a “sabotage”.

GMC principal Dr Shashi Sudan Sharma, however, said the inquiry committee did not indicate “any such thing’’, when asked about a possible sabotage.

“An FIR has been registered. We cannot say whether it was done intentionally” or was an accident, Sharma said.

“Our back-up system was in place and things were back to normal within eight minutes,’’ she said. “There was no death (in the hospital), that day or during the next two or three days.”

Police have registered a case under IPC Section 440 (mischief to cause hurt or death). Jammu SSP Chandan Kohli said they are investigating the case from all aspects, including sabotage and attempt to murder.

The incident took place at 11.20 am on June 16.

According to health bulletin issued by the administration on June 16 and 19 evening, there was one Covid-related death in GMC Hospital on both days. It is not known whether there is any link with the brief oxygen snag.

In a complaint lodged with GMC police post on June 17, Assistant Executive Engineer (Mechanical Division) Rajiv Gupta, who is posted at the oxygen plant, said that some “unknown” persons “deliberately and mischievously shut off the control valve’’ of the isolation ward “in the cold oxygen plant room’’ around 11.20 am, thereby disrupting supply and causing panic among patients. “We have enquired from the person on duty during that shift, individually as well as collectively’’, but the staff have not been able to reveal identity of those allegedly involved, Gupta stated in his complaint.

Calling it “an act of sabotage’’, Gupta said they do not touch the valve, and it is always kept in the same position to ensure free flow of oxygen to patients.

Sharma said staff posted at the control room operate these valves to regulate oxygen supply.

Recalling the incident, Gupta said there were 14 patients in the isolation ward when, around 11.20 am, he was informed by GMC medical superintendent Dr A D S Manhas that pressure of oxygen supply had decreased. Head of anesthesia department Dr Samriti Gulati also rang up Executive Engineer Bodh Raj.

“I rushed some people to the isolation ward and others to the oxygen supply control room to find out the fault,’’ Gupta recalled. He said the staff found that the “control valve of the cold oxygen plant to the isolation ward had been shut off at the control room’’, which is manned by mechanical division of the engineering department.

Six people from the hospital operate the plant and monitor oxygen supply at the control room in a group of two by rotation, officials said.

The valve was of the new oxygen generation plant installed at GMC Hospital recently. The passage to it passes through the room where the old oxygen plant was installed, sources said. They said there were four or five valves installed on the side of a wall and the first one was found switched off.

Tej Kishen and Tilak Raj, plant operators on duty in morning shift, were reportedly not present in the control room when the mishap occurred. One of them has said he had gone to the washroom, and the other claimed that he left the control room for a while to meet a friend, Gupta recalled.

The police have called both for questioning; they remain deployed at the oxygen control room.

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