Nashik hospital oxygen leak: CM orders probe, announces Rs 5-lakh compensation for kin

At least 22 patients died at the Dr Zakir Husain hospital, a dedicated Covid-19 facility with over 150 patients admitted, after its oxygen supply was affected due to a leakage in the main storage tank.

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday ordered a high-level inquiry into the oxygen tank leakage incident in which at least 24 Covid-19 patients died at civic body-run Dr Zakir Husain hospital in Nashik. He also announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the kin of each deceased.

Maintaining that the entire incident will be investigated thoroughly, he said in a statement: “Those responsible for the accident will not be spared. But no one should politicise this unfortunate incident. This has traumatised the state. The entire state is mourning.”

At least 22 patients died at the Dr Zakir Husain hospital, a dedicated Covid-19 facility with over 150 patients admitted, after its oxygen supply was affected due to a leakage in the main storage tank.

Highlighting the importance of oxygen in the second wave of the virus, Thackeray said, “Instructions were given in every meeting to ensure that oxygen leakage does not happen under any circumstances. The chief secretary has been immediately asked to investigate how this incident happened and fix responsibility.”

Terming the incident as “shocking” and “heartbreaking”, he added that the pandemic has plunged the country into a vicious cycle of misfortune. “We are engaged in the battle with coronavirus. There is a shortage of oxygen, medicine and beds at various places, and people are dying as a result. The news of the accident… is shocking and heartbreaking. I have no words to express grief. How to comfort the relatives of the deceased? How to wipe their tears? Even if this could be an accident, the grief of the relatives is immense,” he said.

Thackeray further said that the incident is a learning lesson for the administration. “Mourning alone will not suffice. The administration needs to work carefully to ensure that such incidents, which will demoralise the health system, do not happen in the future,” he added.

The BJP, meanwhile, urged the state government to take strong measures to ensure that such incidents do not occur again.

Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, Devendra Fadnavis, said, “The incident is shocking and painful. The state government surely will probe the matter. But initiatives should be taken to avoid such incidents in the future.”

“Whatever measures are necessary should be immediately taken to exercise greater caution in handling oxygen tankers, refilling tanks and avoiding leakages,” he added.

No FIR yet, police wait for report

No FIR has been filed in the Nashik hospital oxygen leak case yet with the city police saying it will wait for the report of the three-member high-powered committee, set up by the Maharashtra government to investigate the matter, before registering a case.

A decision on whether an FIR should be registered will depend on the findings of the report, an official said.

At least 24 patients died at the government-run Dr Zakir Husain hospital in Maharashtra’s Nashik district on Wednesday after oxygen supply was affected due to a leakage in the main storage tank. Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray has ordered a high-level inquiry into the incident.

Nashik Police Commissioner Deepak Pandey said, “In light of the incident, we will be waiting for the report of the panel constituted by the CM. Depending on tha, a decision will be taken.”

The officer, though, added that the police have begun the process of recording the statements of the relatives of those who died at the hospital. The police are also seeking legal opinion in the matter.

An officer said that if any negligence is found in the enquiry report, a case of either culpable homicide not amounting to murder or causing death due to negligence can be registered.

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