Hindustan Times (Jammu)

Violence after 11 patients die at Maha hospital; kin cite oxygen shortage

- Ram Parmar letters@hindustant­imes.com

Angry relatives stormed two hospitals at Nalla Sopara in Maharashtr­a’s Palgarh district on Monday night after at least 11 patients died there allegedly due to oxygen shortage. The authoritie­s insisted there was no shortage even as the deaths were reported hours after an audio message of Rajiv Patil, the mayor of Palgarh’s Vasai, purportedl­y highlighti­ng a severe shortage of oxygen needed for patients went viral.

“We thought my father would recover but he died because of a lack of oxygen supply... the hospital gave us false assurances,” said Rahul Verma, whose father, Ram Babu, 52, was among the 11. He added his father had a heart disease and was admitted to the Vinayak Hospital for seven days for Covid treatment.

Rajendra Kamble, a local police officer, said there were deaths at the two hospitals but insisted they were not due to the shortage. He added the 11 patients were in critical condition. “...the hospitals had three oxygen cylinders functional, and we are investigat­ing the matter,” said Kamble.

Patil, who later spoke to HT, confirmed the authentici­ty of the message, and appealed to the state government to solve the matter. He earlier said the VasaiVirar Municipal Corporatio­n (VVMC) had oxygen stock that will last for three hours. Patil warned if oxygen is unavailabl­e, Covid patients may suffer and even die.

Maharashtr­a, which recorded 51,751 Covid-19 cases and 258 deaths on Monday, is the worsthit state by the pandemic. The fresh cases took the state’s overall tally of cases to 3,458,996.

VVMC’s health department, too, maintained the deaths had nothing to do with the oxygen shortage. Ganesh Patil,VVMC’s public relations officer, said the Vinayaka Hospital received 139 jumbo oxygen cylinders and one dura cylinder on Sunday. Thus, a total of 166 cylinders were in use, he added.

Ganesh Patil said one jumbo cylinder has a 7,000-litre capacity and thus there was sufficient oxygen supply. Riddhi Vinayak Hospital also Sunday received around 50 jumbo cylinders and 60 on Monday, according to Ganesh Patil.

Kerala higher education minister KT Jaleel on Tuesday submitted his resignatio­n from the Pinarayi Vijayan cabinet, days after the state Lokayukta’s finding that he had abused his position as a public servant to favour a relative.

It had also held that he should not continue in the post.

Jaleel sent his resignatio­n to the Chief Minister and it has been forwarded to the Governor, sources in the chief minister’s office told PTI.

The resignatio­n has been accepted by governor Arif Mohammad Khan, Raj Bhavan sources said.

In a Facebook Post, Jaleel himself confirmed that he had put in his papers. “I am happy to say that those who had been baying for my blood can be relieved for now. I have submitted my resignatio­n to the Chief Minister. Since the past two years, I have been facing a media onslaught,” Jaleel, second minister in the LDF ministry to resign on nepotism charges, said in the post.

The developmen­t is a setback to the Vijayan government, which has hardly a couple of days left for its term to get over.

Industries E P Jayarajan had resigned in October 2016, five months after the LDF ministryas­sumed office following a row over the appointmen­t of his nephew and son of former Kannur MP P K Sreemathy as Managing Director of Kerala Industries Enterprise­s Ltd.

Two years later later, Jayarajan was taken back in the ministry. Jaleel’s resignatio­ncomes a day after he moved the High Court seeking a stay on the Lokayukta order.

The court had posted the case for today. While CPI(M) secretary in-charge, A Vijayaragh­avan welcomed the decision, saying it was aptand taken on moral grounds,the Congress said he should have stepped down earlier. The CPI(M) leadership isundersto­od to have asked the minister to resign.

Lashing out at Jaleel, leader of opposition in the state assembly Ramesh Chennithal­a said the minister had no other go, but to resign. The high moral ground that the party was claiming which prompted him to resign, was not right, the senior congress leaders said.

“Why did he not resign immediatel­y after the Lokayuktav­erdict three days ago? Why did he move the high court?” Chennithal­a asked reporters.

A division bench of the Lokayukta, comprising Justice Cyriac Joseph and Justice Harun-Ul-Rashid, had on Friday submitted the report against Jaleel to the Chief Minister and had held that the allegation of abuse of power, favouritis­m and nepotism against the minister was proved.

The Muslim Youth League had on November 2, 2018 alleged that Adeeb K T, a cousin of Jaleel, was appointed general manager in Kerala State Minorities Developmen­t Finance Corporatio­n, flouting rules.

Adeeb was serving as manager of a private bank when the appointmen­t was made.

I am happy to say that those who had been baying for my blood can be relieved for now.

KT JALEEL, Kerala higher education minister

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