Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath
urged the media to desist from reporting “fake” news of the tragedy at the Baba Raghav Das (BRD) Medical College at Gorakhpur and instead report the actual situation.
At least 30 children have died since Thursday at BRD hospital, allegedly due to the snapping of oxygen supply by a private supplier company over pending bills of Rs 68 lakh. Adityanath, flanked by health minister J P Nadda, toured the hospital. He said anyone found guilty of negligence would not be spared and the government was awaiting the report of a probe committee.
However, the Adityanath-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government continued to struggle on Sunday to respond constructively to the onslaught of criticism from Opposition parties. Nadda announced the setting up of a Rs 85-crore regional medical centre for research into children’s diseases in the district.
This has occurred at a time when Adityanath is required to quit his Lok Sabha (LS) seat by September 18, when he completes six months as chief minister of UP, and a bypoll has to be held on the seat. Adityanath is a five-term LS member from Gorakhpur, winning every election since 1998.
The Opposition has been unsparing in criticism. The Congress on Sunday demanded a Supreme Court-monitored probe into the deaths and accused the Uttar Pradesh government of attempting to bury the truth through “operation cover-up”. “A government that cannot protect its children does not deserve to rule,” tweeted Congress leader P Chidambaram. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) also demanded a judicial probe.
Talking to media in Gorakphur this afternoon, Adityanath said he had directed officials to facilitate the visit of journalists in groups of two-three to critical care centres, and neonatal and children wards, so that they can witness the medical care being provided. “I want the media to report actual facts and not unverified or fake reporting from outside the hospital periphery,” he said.
The CM said he had fought for research activities focusing on finding a cure for Japanese Encephalitis
(JE), a fatal vector-borne disease that has killed thousands of children in Gorakhpur and adjoining districts in the past two decades. Adityanath said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had called him up over the matter and offered all possible help.
The chief minister said a high-level committee, headed by Chief Secretary Rajive Kumar, had been constituted to submit a comprehensive report. He said about 8 million children across 38 districts have been given vaccination for JE and that he had visited BRD Medical College thrice after becoming the CM.
On August 9, he had visited Gorakhpur and held a high-level meeting to take stock of the health situation in the region.
The private company in question, Pushpa Private Ltd, which allegedly cut oxygen supply to Gorakhpur’s BRD Medical College, had written several letters to the officials concerned seeking clearance of payment but nothing was done. BRD principal has already been removed. He claimed he quit on moral grounds.
The Uttar Pradesh government's medical education department, in a letter to medical colleges, directed the institutes to immediately pay all dues to oxygen suppliers.
“After the Gorakhpur tragedy, we have issued a written order to all the nine government medical colleges and 12 other prominent medical institutes in the state to ensure that there is no shortage of any medicine or oxygen,” Anita Bhatnagar Jain, additional chief secretary, medical education, told PTI.