COVID: 2021 Chamarajanagar oxygen tragedy: Probe incomplete; Health Minister aims to fix onus

COVID: 2021 Chamarajanagar oxygen tragedy: Probe incomplete; Health Minister aims to fix onus

June 11, 2023

Bengaluru: Following the State Government’s order for an investigation into alleged scams and irregularities during the previous BJP Government’s tenure, Health Minister Dinesh Gundu Rao has announced a re-investigation into the Chamarajanagar Oxygen tragedy.

The incident, which occurred two years ago (2021 during the peak of the second-wave of COVID-19 pandemic) at Chamarajanagar Government Hospital, resulted in the reported deaths of 36 patients due to a shortage of Medical Oxygen.

Expressing dissatisfaction with the previous probe, Rao has urged the Government to establish a new Committee in the Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms (DPAR) for a fresh investigation. He criticised the delay caused by previous Government’s lack of action and passing the responsibility between Health and Medical Education Departments.

Despite the potential for further delays, Rao emphasised the importance of delivering justice and holding the culprits accountable, stating that time should not be a hindrance in such a serious matter.

The Minister highlighted that a report from the Committee appointed by the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority had identified oxygen shortage as the primary cause of the deaths. Therefore, he stressed the need for a comprehensive re-investigation to identify those responsible, as the previous investigation had been incomplete.

Initially, the Government had reported 24 deaths, but a High Court fact-finding Committee later confirmed the number to be 36. The lack of coordination between agencies and oxygen supply shortages were cited as factors contributing to tragedy.

The preliminary report also identified failures on the part of the hospital, district administration and the Deputy Commissioner of Chamarajanagar, who chaired the District Disaster Management Committee. Despite the inclusion of IAS and KAS Officers in the investigation, no one was punished,               according to the Minister.


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