The politics over the issue heightened further in the city when opposition leaders from Delhi and Lucknow reached here today to assess the situation. However, the officials, who first said that only seven children died as they were critical patient of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES), later confirmed 30 deaths during the past two days last night. However, later it was disclosed by the officials themselves that 60 children have died during the past five days.
Though the government refused to admit about the shortage of oxygen as the main reason for the deaths, it could not give any convincing reply on the stoppage of supply of liquefied oxygen by the company, who had stopped it after their pending payments were not made. Last night, five more deaths of children were reported from the encephalitis ward at the BRD medical college hospital, taking the toll to 35 in just two days.
Meanwhile, both the Health ministers, Sidharthnath Singh and Ashutosh Tandon have rushed here from Lucknow along with senior officials of the health department to probe into the matter. Due to the visit of the ministers, the entire BRD medical college has turned into a fortress with heavy security forces deployed and no one being allowed to enter the ICU ward and other places.
However, the UP ministers appealed to the opposition not to do politics over the issue, senior Congress leaders from Delhi, which includes AICC general secretary and leader of the opposition in Rajya Sabha Gulam Nabi Azad, UP Congress president Raj Babbar, Rajya Sabha Pramod Tiwari and Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Singh, reached here on a chartered flight at around 0945 hrs.
They visited the hospital and met the family members of the deceased children. Later, Congress leader and former Union minister R P N Singh, who was among the delegation, said that what happened was due to lapse on the government's part. Mr Babbar has demanded Rs 20 lakh as compensation besides resignation of the health minister on moral ground. Congress legislature party leader Ajay Kumar Lalu is already camping in Gorakhpur since yesterday when the news broke out and he had visited the hospital. Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav too is expected to visit Gorakhpur while BSP president Mayawati is likely to send a high-level team here to assess the situation.
Meanwhile, the company, supplying oxygen to the BRD hospital, has admitted that they have written more than 100 letters for clearing the dues of over Rs 69 lakhs and they were forced to stop the supply on August 4 after giving them a warning about it. The private company Pushpa Sales officials also claimed that the principal of the hospital several times assured them of the payment but later he refused to meet them. However, the government refused to accept till date that the deaths were due to shortage of oxygen. (UNI)