Gorakhpur tragedy: Oxygen vendor claims hospital wanted increased commission for clearing payment

Published: August 14, 2017 - 14:24 Updated: August 14, 2017 - 15:43

BRD hospital Principal Rajiv Kumar Mishra says the delay in the payment was due to CM Yogi Adityanath’s visit

Delhi: The confusion behind the events that resulted in the death of more than 60 children in the Baba Raghav Das hospital (BRD Medical college and hospital) since August 10 seems to be clearing up. According to reports the payment to the oxygen supplier was delayed because the hospital wanted more commission to clear the payment of over Rs 68 lakh.  

According to the records, the BRD hospital had a bank balance of Rs 1.86 crore but refused to pay the bills. On August 4, the government sent Rs 2 crore to the hospital, but the principal Rajiv Kumar Mishra, who has been suspended, refused to pay the bills and did the same on August 11 only after a number of children collapse due to the scarcity of oxygen.

However, the suspended principal claims that the delay in the payment was because he was occupies in arrangements for Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s visit on August 8-9. "We made the payment on August 11, when other issues were sorted out," the principal said while denying vehemently the charges of asking for increased commission. The Lucknow based Pushpa Sales Pvt Ltd had repeatedly written letters to the hospital administration to clear its dues of Rs 68 lakh, but that did not happen as the hospital was asking for more commissions as compared to last year.

There seems to have been an unwritten understanding according to which Pushpa Sales would pay 10 per cent commission of the total amount due to them. But this year the hospital administration asked for 12 per cent commission. “This was a huge amount which we refused to part with. Our argument is that as we are paying 10 per cent commission at every payment there was no need to increase it. We even argued that during monsoon number of encephalitis cases goes up. This means more supply of liquid oxygen tanks and indirectly the officials will earn more,” said an officer on the condition of anonymity.

As the payments were delayed the oxygen vendors wrote a letter to District Magistrate, Gorakhpur on June 3 with a request to clear dues at the earliest. Sources say DM had spoken to the Hospital administration about it, but the Principal claimed to have assured DM that he would manage the situation. Earlier, Pushpa sales had also written a letter to DG Health on April 12, when the due was Rs 55 lakh. A legal notice was also served to the BRD hospital on July 30, but the hospital administration now says they are not aware of it.

In a press conference, Uttar Pradesh Medical education Minister Ashutosh Tandon confirmed that arrear of Pushpa Sales has gone up to Rs 68. 65 lakh. “We wrote a dozen letters to hospital administration as well as other officials and government in last six months, but the payments were not cleared because we refused to pay 12 per cent commission,” the official said. The BRD hospital has its own oxygen plant which has 12,000-liter tank. On an average, the hospital requires 8000-liter oxygen per week. One time supply costs hospital Rs 2.5 lakh. Meanwhile, controversy broke out on the removal Dr Kafeel Khan as the nodal officer for the department of paediatrics of Baba Raghav Das Medical College and in his place, Dr Bhupendra Sharma has been appointed.

However, Director General medical education K K Gupta maintained that Principal Rajiv Mishra was suspended after the government received several complaints against him." His work was unorganised, substandard," he further said. Dr Gupta had also defended the children's death saying that the encephalitis cases peaked due to the monsoon.' It's clear these deaths have no relation with the shortage of Oxygen," he claimed.