BENGALURU: Two patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) of a hospital in Ballari died allegedly during power outage, a charge denied by the Karnataka government which said it is ready to conduct a probe into the issue that rocked the State Assembly on Thursday.
Maula Hussein (35), suffering from kidney-related ailments, and Chettemma (30), a snake-bite victim, died at the Vijayanagara Institute of Medical Sciences (VIMS) in the district headquarters town of Ballari on Wednesday at 9.30 AM and 9.35 AM respectively.
Some reports attributed the deaths to power-cut and a defunct power generator or backup at the government medical college hospital.
Denying the allegation, VIMS and the government said the deaths were not due to power-cuts, and the backup was readily available.
In the Assembly, the opposition Congress claimed that actually three people died due to alleged negligence on the part of the government and demanded that the Health Minister K Sudhakar resign.
Raising the issue during the Zero Hour, the Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah said there was a power-cut from 8 AM to 10:30 AM and at the same time the generator was also not functioning and three people who were in the ICU died as the ventilators did not function.
He held director of the medical college, Health Department, Minister and officials, Deputy Commissioner of the district, responsible for the deaths and the government should own up.
Also, questioning as to why the generator was not readily kept available in a working condition, he further said strict action should be taken against errant officials and compensation of Rs 25 lakh each should be immediately given to the family of the deceased.
Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister J C Madhuswamy, referring to the "language used in the notice" of the Leader of Opposition seeking to raise the issue, said it was not expected from Siddaramaiah.
"The letter states the government was directly responsible for the deaths, and they were not accidental, but a government-sponsored murder...what is this?" the Minister asked.
This led to heated exchange between Madhuswamy and Siddaramaiah, which also saw legislators from both sides joining in.
Assembly Speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri intervened and brought things under control.
Ballari district in-charge Minister B Sriramulu, in his reply on part of the government, shared details about the two deaths and said they were not due to power outage.
"Hundred per cent! Maula Hussein and Chettemma's died not due to power failure and the Medical Superintendent there has also given a report in this regard...they have died of health issues they were suffering from," he said, adding that there was one-and-half-hour power backup at the hospital.
Siddaramaiah, arguing that there are reports that the deaths were due to power outage and non-availability of power backup, demanded an inquiry.
He said the government should accept its failure and should not "play on the issue of deaths." Madhuswamy maintained that one death was due to chronic kidney ailment and other was due to snake-bite, and there was adequate power backup.
The Minister added: "Still if there is suspicion, we will get an inquiry done and report it back to the House. If there is fault on part of the hospital, compensation to the deceased kin will be considered and action will be taken against those responsible."