Lucknow, Aug 12: While maintaining that none of the deaths reported at Gorakhpur’s BRD Medical College in past five days was caused due to shortage of liquid oxygen, the government on Saturday admitted that oxygen supply was briefly disrupted on Thursday night. Calling it a matter of “major negligence”, the Uttar Pradesh Health Minister Siddharth Nath Singh sacked the hospital’s principal R K Mishra.

“We have learnt that supply of oxygen was inadequate between 11:30 PM in the night (on Thursday) till 1:30 AM in the wee hours of Friday. The ongoing probe would reveal why the supply was disrupted,” Singh said, while addressing reporters here.

“The government is treating the matter seriously. We have decided to sack BRD Medical College principal for the negligence,” announced UP’s Medical Education Minister Ashok Tandon.

Despite calling the disruption of oxygen as a major lapse, the UP government maintained that none of the deaths were caused due to shortage of oxygen. “There was inadequate oxygen supply for those 2 hours, but the administration had ensured that there is no shortage of cylinders at the hospital,” the Health Minister added.

Earlier in the day, Opposition leaders lashed out at the Yogi Adityanath-led government in the state, seeking resignations of the Health Minister and the Health Secretary for the alleged negligence.

The Congress delegation, comprising of Ghulam Nabi Azad, Pramod Tiwari and Raj Babbar, visited the hospital earlier in the day. While speaking to reporters, they blamed the Chief Minister, asking him to issue an unconditional apology, along with compensation for the victims’ kin.

The ruling BJP struck back at the Opposition’s charge, accusing them of politicising the tragedy. “We are grief-struck too. The death of even one child pains us. But we appeal the Opposition to not use the plight of patients for their petty political gains,” Singh said.

Further pointing out the statistics, he added that Gorakhpur witnesses a spree of deaths due to encephalitis every year in August. “This is not a new phenomenon. While our government is steadily improving the health care status in the state, it should also be noted that the AES (acute encephalitis syndrome) has caused many deaths in this period of the year.”

While the UP CM Yogi Adityanath is yet to address the media on the issue, the Chief Minister’s Office tweeted that he is keenly monitoring the situation.

The Prime Minister’s Office has deployed MoS Health Anupriya Patel, along with the Union Health Secretary to monitor the situation at the BRD medical College. “PM is constantly monitoring the situation in Gorakhpur. He is in constant touch with authorities from the Central & UP Governments,” the twitter handle said.