Panel on oxygen-scarcity deaths rejected by Centre again: Sisodia

Allegations by Delhi govt. draw strong criticism from L-G office, Opposition BJP

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government on Friday locked horns with Raj Niwas and the Delhi BJP over oxygen-scarcity deaths in the national capital during the second wave of COVID-19.

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said the Centre had yet again rejected the high-level committee of medical experts set up by the Delhi government to get to the bottom of the matter.

Raj Niwas termed Mr. Sisodia’s allegations “misleading” while the Delhi BJP accused the AAP government of floating conspiracy theories to hide its own failure when it came to ensuring adequate supply of oxygen during the second wave.

“The Delhi government has constituted a panel to probe the number of deaths… so that the reason behind these deaths could be investigated and compensation of ₹5 lakh could be given to the families of the victims, but the Lieutenant- Governor has yet again rejected this committee,” Mr. Sisodia told reporters.

The L-G is of the view that no oxygen-scarcity deaths occurred in Delhi, so there is no need to form an inquiry committee, he alleged

Mr. Sisodia said that on the one hand, the Centre was asking States for details on oxygen-scarcity deaths, and on the other was not approving the inquiry committee to investigate the matter.

“It is a matter of shame that in the 21st Century, the Centre is saying there should be no probe into such deaths. During April-May, the gross mismanagement of oxygen by the Centre, whether deliberate or unintentional, is a matter of investigation,” he added.

“The Centre is responsible for the mismanagement of oxygen. Today, it is trying to hide the facts by avoiding a probe,” said Mr. Sisodia.

All for probe: Raj Niwas

Sources from Raj Niwas, however, sought to clarify that neither the L-G nor the Centre had said that deaths due to oxygen shortage “should not be probed.”

In both instances related to the formation of an inquiry panel by the Delhi government — first on July 6 and then on August 8 — the AAP government was told that a panel constituted as per Supreme Court directions was already looking into the matter, said Raj Niwas sources,

This committee has submitted its interim report and is working on the final report, the sources added.

The L-G and the Union Health Minister had reiterated that this panel should be “allowed to do its work” and that setting up another committee for the same purpose “will only create confusion”.

Responding to this, the Delhi government alleged it was clear that the L-G’s office, “under Centre’s pressure”, was trying to scuttle any probe into the deaths.

“The scope of the panel set up by the SC is only to look at oxygen supply issues in Delhi, not to probe the oxygen-scarcity deaths,” the Delhi government alleged.

“Why is the Centre on the one hand asking us to submit data on the deaths, and on the other hand using the L-G office to stop us from compiling this data? Why is the Centre so desperate to hide the truth regarding these deaths” the Delhi government demanded.

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