The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Heartland hauled up on child deaths

New Delhi, Nov. 10: The National Human Rights Commission has pulled up the Uttar Pradesh government for its “casual attitude” to “notices” seeking details of the death of 44 children at a state-run health centre.

The NHRC sternly told the state chief secretary that the government was obliged to answer questions it raised under rules formulated by the Centre while setting up the panel.

“The commission calls upon the chief secretary, finally, to respond to the concerns expressed by the commission and to carry out the directions issued by it in its various proceedings,” the panel directed the state.

The panel had taken suo motu cognisance of media reports of December 2, 2002, which suggested that 44 children had died at Sant Baldev Das Bajoria Chikitsalaya and issued notices to the chief secretary on December 17, seeking a response within four weeks.

The administration had in most instances refused to respond to the rights panel’s notices or, when it did, not bothered to answer the queries.

The panel warned that if the state failed to respond within four weeks, it would be “compelled” to exercise its civil powers to summon any functionary or documents, under Section 13 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.

The panel had only received a communication from the Saharanpur senior superintendent of police, giving a brief account of the action taken by the authorities in the matter.

But basic questions about the health centre such as those on non-availability of life-saving drugs and major antibiotics and dearth of oxygen cylinders, suction machines and ventilators were not answered.

The panel had again sought a report from the chief secretary on June 11.

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