Gorakhpur Tragedy: Oxygen Supplier Says Hospital Paid up Rs 20 Lakh After 30 Deaths
An inside view of a ward of BRD Hospital in Gorakhpur on Friday. (PTI Photo)
Pushpa Sales, which supplied liquid oxygen to the Gorakhpur hospital, had threatened to cut off supply if dues were not met. The payment was made only after the death of 30 children within 48 hours put the spotlight on alleged lapses in the government-run hospital.
Lucknow: The state-run Baba Raghav Das Medical College in Gorakhpur didn’t pay the firm which supplied it liquid oxygen for months on end. But as soon as news broke of 30 children dying due to oxygen shortage, it released a payment of Rs 20.84 lakh, the company told News18.com on Saturday.
“We are the distributors. We get our supply from Inox Company in Rewari, Rajasthan. We have been running from pillar to post for months now, but each time, the hospital authorities told us that they didn’t have funds to pay us,” Deepankar Sharma of Pushpa Sales said.
Sharma was the one from the oxygen supplying firm who had been in correspondence with the hospital regarding payment.
Speaking to News18.com over phone, Sharma questioned how the hospital managed to arrange for funds after facing criticism and an investigation into the children’s deaths.
“I remember making regular visits to the hospital since February. I met Rajeev Mishra, the medical college principal, a couple of times. He kept us waiting till evening and then gave us hardly two minutes. Even then, he just said he didn’t have funds to make the payment. After repeated attempts to get paid, we served a legal notice to the hospital authorities,” Sharma said.
“We were unnecessarily harassed by Rajeev Mishra for our payment. But after the yesterday’s tragic news, we were paid Rs 20.84 lakh in the evening, and have been assured of a payment of Rs 30 lakh today (Saturday). Now, if the hospital had no funds for months, how did they make a payment of Rs 20 lakh suddenly?”
In a letter written to the hospital authorities on August 1, the company had even threatened to cut off supply if the dues — amounting to around Rs 64 lakh — were not cleared. A copy of the letter is with CNN-News18.
The local administration in Gorakhpur, the Lok Sabha constituency of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, has admitted that oxygen supply was disrupted, but denied that it led to the deaths. It has claimed that adequate back-up supply of liquid oxygen.
Sources, however, told News18.com that once Pushpa Sales made true on its threat and cut off supply, the Baba Raghav Das Medical College asked other hospitals and oxygen vendors for additional supply.
Sharma said his firm had managed to get a consignment of liquid oxygen to the hospital on August 4 despite not having been paid.
“We arranged for the funds by ourselves and got a shipment to the hospital on August 4. The payments have now been made and hopefully the Inox company will supply oxygen accordingly now,” he said.
BRD Medical College Principal Rajeev Mishra remained unavailable for comments. Reports on Friday said he had left Gorakhpur for Delhi after the deaths were reported.