Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Saturday ruled out a shortage of oxygen as responsible for the deaths in Gorakhpur's Baba Raghav Das Medical College and Hospital as he stressed no one found guilty would be spared.
He also requested the media to be responsible and only broadcast authentic death statistics.
"We are sensitive to each death in the hospital and will request you all to be careful about the facts and figures," he said at a press conference here.
Expressing his sympathies to the families who have lost their children, Adityanath said that encephalitis was a big challenge for the state government, adding that the prevalence of the disease has been an emotional issue for him as he have been waging a war against this since 1998.
He also said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had spoken to him, enquired about the situation and assured all help from the central government. The Union Health Secretary was in Gorakhpur along with state government officials, he said, adding that Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda and his Minister of State Anupriya Patel were mentoring the situation as well.
Adityanath also said that during his review meeting in Gorakhpur on August 9, he had asked officials if there were any issues they were facing or any help they required from the government but was told that there were none.
The Chief Minister said that he himself had visited the BRD medical college on July 9 and August 9 to himself look at the situation but was not informed of any shortage of any facility, including oxygen.
Meanwhile, Patel, who arrived here in the evening, drove straight for a high-level stock taking meeting on the tragedy. She also spoke to the media and said that the guilty would not be spared and that the government would act "cruelly and with a firm hand" to punish callous officials.
State Health Minister Siddharth Nath Singh also denied that the shortage of oxygen or the disruption of the central oxygen plant at the BRD medical college had lead to the deaths of children, including infants. He also attributed the deaths of children to some underweight, early delivery, sepsis, pneumonia and other infections. A few deaths, he added, happened due to encephalitis as well.
Medical Education Minister Ashutosh Tandon said pending payments of the vendor supplying oxygen were cleared on August 5 and funds sent to the medical college.
"It is thus surprising that the BRD Medical College Principal Rajeev Mishra did not release it till August 11," he said, adding that prima facie he was found callous and has hence been suspended.
The minister also questioned Mishra's trip to Rishikesh in middle of such a grave crisis. He also said that a committee has been formed under the Chief Secretary to probe the role of the oxygen supplier and it is expected to submit a report within a week.
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