Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Monday told the state assembly that his government will set up a panel to probe possible negligence by hospitals in treating Covid patients.
The chief minister made the announcement while seeking to assure the House that no death due to oxygen shortage had been recorded in the state.
Mr Khattar sought to assure the assembly after the opposition Congress, during Zero Hour, raised the issue of deaths in parts of the state allegedly due to oxygen shortage during the peak of the second Covid wave earlier this year.
Former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, while training guns on Mr Khattar, alleged, "Leader of the House has misled the Assembly. He said not a single death took place due to lack of oxygen."
He said it had been widely reported in the media earlier that deaths in hospitals in Gurgaon, Rewari and Hisar did take place due to oxygen shortage.
Arguments took place over the issue for nearly half an hour between Mr Hooda and the chief minister after which the latter offered a detailed reply.
Mr Hooda demanded from the chief minister to withdraw his Friday statement in the assembly that no death took place due to lack of oxygen and form a high-level panel to ascertain how many people died on this account.
In response, Mr Khattar said despite challenges, the government had ensured adequate oxygen supply in the state during the peak of the second Covid wave.
As Congress repeatedly kept attacking the treasury benches on the issue, Mr Khattar said that a committee will be formed to probe any negligence.
Strict action will be taken against such hospitals which are found negligent, he added.
Reeling out official figures, Mr Khattar told the House that about 13,000 people died due to COVID-19 in hospitals across the state. Of these, about 9,500 were Haryana residents, while about 3,500 were from other states.
There are about 3,000 to 4000 hospitals in Haryana and oxygen was supplied everywhere and even arranged from the nearby cities, when needed, during the second wave, he said.
He told the House that in some hospitals of Hisar, Rewari and Gurugram districts, some irregularities were reported and a magisterial inquiry had been conducted for all such complaints received from the hospitals of these three districts.
In two reports on Rewari and Gurgaon hospitals, it was stated that no death was reported due to lack of oxygen, he said.
In the investigation report of Hisar district, a matter of negligence of a private hospital was highlighted and the said report has been sent to the Superintendent of Police for necessary action.
He said during the peak of the second COVID-19 wave, it was noticed that some hospitals admitted more patients than their capacity.
In the case of Hisar's private hospital where the matter of negligence came to light, the consumption had reached 80 cylinders per day while only 20 cylinders were available with the hospital, Mr Khattar said.
Earlier as Mr Hooda kept insisting that the government should clarify whether there had been any death due to oxygen shortage, Speaker Gian Chand Gupta told him that under the rules of Zero Hour, he cannot compel the government to give a reply immediately.
"You must know this, you have been a Lok Sabha member," he told the former chief minister.
Mr Hooda repeatedly said he is not seeking an answer from the government but wants a high-level committee to probe how many deaths occurred due to lack of oxygen.
"Leader of the House (Mr Khattar) must assure House of the reality as to how many deaths took place due to lack of oxygen," he said.
"Imagine what those families who lost their near and dear ones due to oxygen shortage must be going through when the government tells on the floor of the assembly that no one has died due to oxygen shortage," said Mr Hooda.
"Negligence may have been on anyone's part, but the question is have there been deaths due to lack of oxygen or not," the senior Congress leader said.