MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court on Thursday took suo motu (on its own) cognisance of the oxygen leak incident at a hospital in Nashik that led to the death of 22 COVID-19 patients, and sought a report from the Maharashtra government.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G S Kulkarni directed Advocate General (AG) Ashutosh Kumbhakoni to file an affidavit by May 4, explaining how the incident had occurred.
During the hearing, Kumbhakoni gave an oral summary of the incident that took place on Wednesday at Dr Zakir Hussain Hospital, run by the Nashik Municipal Corporation.
Kumbhakoni told the court that as per the preliminary report sent to state chief secretary by the Nashik civic authorities, the oxygen tank was installed based on a contract with private company Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corporation.
The firm was also responsible for maintaining and filling the tank, he said.
“The oxygen was flowing, but the pressure was less. The same day, oxygen was refilled into these tanks. They inspected and found leakage in the valve,” the AG said, adding that engineers had been called in to attend to the fault.
“Meanwhile, the oxygen pressure dropped to such a level that the supply almost stopped. This resulted in a cut off of oxygen and the situation continued till about an hour and 20 minutes,” he said.
The court remarked that the situation was tragic, as 22 COVID-19 patients died due to the leak.
Kumbhakoni said the authorities had managed to repair the tank and restore the supply eventually.
The court then asked the AG to place all submissions in an affidavit. A detailed order on the same will be made public later in the evening, the high court said.
Twenty-two COVID-19 patients died after oxygen supply was stopped suddenly because of a malfunction in the main storage at the civic-run hospital on Wednesday.
The Maharashtra government on Wednesday announced a probe into the incident by a seven-member committee and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said financial assistance of Rs 5 lakh would be provided to the families of each victim.