Haryana’s chief minister, Manohar Lal Khattar, told the state assembly on Monday that his government will set up a panel to investigate possible hospital failures in treating Covid patients.
The Prime Minister made the announcement while assuring the House that no deaths from oxygen deprivation had been recorded in the state.
Khattar tried to secure the meeting after the opposition congress, during Zero Hour, raised the issue of deaths in parts of the state allegedly due to oxygen deprivation during the peak of the second Covid wave earlier this year.
Former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, while training weapons on Khattar, claimed: “The leader of the House misled the Assembly. He said no deaths occurred due to lack of oxygen.”
He said there had previously been a lot of media coverage of deaths in hospitals in Gurgaon, Rewari and Hisar as a result of oxygen deprivation.
There was an argument between Mr Hooda and the Prime Minister on the matter for nearly half an hour, after which he gave a detailed reply.
Mr Hooda demanded the prime minister withdraw his statement in Friday’s meeting that there were no deaths from lack of oxygen and form a high-level panel to establish how many people died for this reason.
In response, Mr Khattar said that despite the challenges, the government had ensured adequate oxygenation in the state during the peak of the second Covid wave.
As Congress repeatedly continued to attack Treasury banks over the matter, Mr Khattar said a committee will be formed to investigate any negligence.
Strict measures will be taken against such hospitals found to be negligent, he added.
Taking official figures, Mr Khattar told the House that about 13,000 people died as a result of COVID-19 in hospitals across the state. Of these, about 9,500 were residents of Haryana, while about 3,500 were from other states.
There are about 3,000 to 4,000 hospitals in Haryana and oxygen was delivered everywhere and even arranged from nearby towns as needed during the second wave, he said.
He told the House that some irregularities were reported in some hospitals of Hisar, Rewari and Gurugram districts and that a magisterial investigation had been carried out on all such complaints received from the hospitals of these three districts.
Two reports from Rewari and Gurgaon hospitals said no deaths had been reported from oxygen deprivation, he said.
The investigation report of Hisar district raised a matter of negligence of a private hospital and the said report has been sent to the Chief Inspector of Police for the necessary action.
He said that during the peak of the second wave of COVID-19, some hospitals were noted to be taking on more patients than their capacity.
In the case of Hisar’s private hospital, where the issue of negligence came to light, consumption had reached 80 cylinders per day while only 20 cylinders were available at the hospital, Mr Khattar said.
Earlier, while Mr Hooda continued to urge the government to clarify whether there have been any deaths from oxygen deprivation, Speaker Gian Chand Gupta told him that under Zero Hour rules, he cannot force the government to respond immediately.
“You should know this, you have been a member of Lok Sabha,” he told the former prime minister.
Mr Hooda repeatedly said he is not seeking a response from the government but wants a high-level commission to investigate the number of deaths caused by lack of oxygen.
“The Leader of the House (Mr Khattar) must assure House of the reality of the number of deaths from oxygen deprivation,” he said.
“Imagine what those families who have lost their loved ones to oxygen deprivation must go through when the government tells the floor of the meeting that no one has died as a result of oxygen deprivation,” Mr Hooda said.
“Negligence may have been on one’s side, but the question is whether there have been deaths from oxygen deprivation or not,” the senior congressional leader said.