Baba Raghav Das Medical College in UP’s Gorakhpur is the biggest hospital in the district.

Gorakhpur:  The Uttar Pradesh government on Saturday suspended the head of the hospital, where 63 children, many of them newborns, have died even as Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Health Minister blamed it on lack of cleanliness and diseases and not due to lack of oxygen.

The chief minister also briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the initiatives taken by his government following the tragedy. The Centre sent Minister of State for Health Anupriya Patel and Health Secretary CK Mishra to Gorakhpur and look into the lapses in the BRD Medical College, where the children, including in the neonatal ward, were said to have died due to lack of oxygen supply.

Principal of the Baba Raghav Das Medical College RK Mishra was suspended for alleged negligence and callousness. Mr Mishra later said he had already given his resignation, owing moral responsibility for the tragedy. Mr Mishra has been asked to stay put as a committee had been formed to fix responsibility. 

Meanwhile, addressing a public meeting in Allahabad, Mr Adityanath said the deaths in his hometown were caused by filth and the scourge of open defecation. “There are vector-borne diseases, such as encephalitis …It is a tragedy that lives of young children have been snuffed out because we do not lead a clean and hygienic life,” he said and reminded the crowd that the disease has been the bane of eastern Uttar Pradesh since 1978.

Mr Singh, along with his cabinet colleague, Medical Education Minister Ashutosh Tandon, were sent by the Chief Minister on Saturday morning to the hospital. Mr Singh said the Chief Minister had visited the hospital on July 9 and again on August 9 where many things were reviewed, but the shortage of oxygen or any payment issue was never discussed.

The Minister said they have gone through the oxygen gas supply issue and that after thorough scrutiny they were of the opinion that the deaths had not taken place due to lack of oxygen. He also said that if any disruption in oxygen supply comes to light in further probe, the guilty would be brought to book.

But a letter from the staff of the Central Oxygen Pipeline Plant at the hospital – from where oxygen is piped to different wards – contradicts these claim. In the letter, the staffs had written to the head of the paediatrics department warning them of dwindling oxygen stock and forewarned that the shortage could hit the patients admitted in various wards, specially the children.

Meanwhile, Parveen Modi, owner of Pushpa Sales company, which used to supply oxygen to the BRD hospital, denied that his company had the tender to supply oxygen. He claimed that his contract with the hospital had ended in March and was not renewed. He said the contract of Pushpa Sales was ended and the contract given to a new firm from Allahabad – Imperial Gas, after the BJP government came to power this year.

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