NEW DELHI: The AAP government and the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi are once again on collision course over a probe into the death of Covid-19 patients due to oxygen shortage. Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Friday, August 20, 2021, said that L-G Anil Baijal had again rejected the government’s proposal to set up a committee to investigate the deaths caused by oxygen shortage during the second wave. The L-G’s office, however, said that these allegations were “misleading” as there is already a committee set up by the Supreme Court for this purpose.
“Neither the L-G nor the Government of India has said deaths due to oxygen shortage should not be probed. What was said earlier on July 6 and repeated on August 19 is that a high-level committee has been constituted as per SC directions. Setting up another committee for the same purpose will only create confusion,” said a source in Baijal’s office.
The Delhi government had earlier constituted a high-level inquiry committee to ascertain the deaths caused by oxygen shortage and provide a compensation of `5 lakh each to families of the deceased, but the L-G did not approve this. Sisodia, who is also the nodal officer for Covid management in Delhi, said the scope of the high-level committee was only to look into oxygen supply issues, “not to probe the number or the veracity of deaths due to oxygen shortage in hospitals”.
Reiterating the allegation that the L-G move was an attempt by the BJP-led Centre to “hide” the facts, Sisodia said at a press conference, “We had resubmitted a file for the constitution of a panel to probe deaths due to oxygen shortage. The L-G is saying that there is no need for that. On the one hand, the Centre has been asking states to tell how many people died due to oxygen shortage, and on the other, you have not been allowing us to investigate such deaths.”
“That means the Centre deliberately wants us to give in writing no death occurred due to oxygen shortage. It will be a big lie. The Central government is trying to hide facts by avoiding a probe,” he added.
With both sides pointing fingers at each other, the accountability for the deaths is still to be fixed. The AAP government has blamed the Centre for “complete mismanagement” of oxygen supply.