Chamarajnagar oxygen tragedy: Families still await compensation from state

Chamarajnagar oxygen tragedy: Families still await compensation from state

Siddarajamma lost her husband Jaishankar, a 37-year-old engineer employed in Bengaluru, after oxygen ran out at the Chamarajanagar general hospital on May 2.

“He was admitted to Chamarajanagar general hospital on April 27 after he was tested COVID-19 positive and his saturation level was decreasing. On May 2 night, due to oxygen shortage in the hospital, Jaishankar passed away,” his wife Siddarajamma told Indianexpress.com.

His family of six, including a son and a daughter, was entirely dependent on his income.

“We were all dependent on Jaishankar. My father-in-law is recovering from a stroke… So far from the government’s side, we have not got any aid. I request the government to help our two kids in education and give me a job to look after my family,” Siddarajamma said.

Jaishankar is among the 24 Covid patients who died after the hospital ran out of oxygen supply. His family, like several others, are still awaiting compensation from the government despite directions from the state high court.

Even the Covid Monitoring Committee of the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority, in its report submitted to the High Court on 12 May, recommended compensating the victims’ families.

Chamarajanagar district in-charge minister, S Suresh Kumar said that the government will soon take a decision on payment of compensation to the families.

“The Karnataka High Court has directed the government to pay relief to the families, and Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa will announce the government’s stand to the court before the next hearing,” he said.

Rani, a former nurse who also lost her husband in the tragedy, held the hospital authorities responsible for the drop in oxygen supply.

“We have not heard anything so far from the administration or the government. It’s been only two months since we got married and I work as a nurse. Today, the situation is very difficult for me. After my husband’s loss, I have not come out from this grief,” she said.

The Karnataka State Legal Services Authority committee headed by Justice AN Venugopala Gowda, in its report, had confirmed that the 24 patients died due to lack of oxygen. However, the state government had earlier claimed that only three of the deaths occurred due to this reason.

The committee report said that the hospital officials and Chamarajanagar district commissioner failed to exhibit leadership quality.

“The Dean of Chamarajanagar Institute of Medical Sciences (CIMS) and the in-charge district surgeon, a microbiologist, did not exhibit leadership quality and failed to efficiently marshal available resources to save lives,” the report said.

“The Deputy Commissioner of Chamarajanagar, as chairman of the District Disaster Management Committee, miserably failed to guide and supervise the crisis situation arising out of extreme demand for oxygen. On the contrary, he indulged in an unsavoury blame game accusing the District Commissioner of Mysuru of causing hindrance for oxygen supply without any basis,” the report further stated.

The committee submitted its report to the Karnataka High Court after analysing official records that were recently seized by the Chief Secretary on the court’s directions.

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