Staff Reporter

VIJAYAWADA: Leaders of the Telugu Desam Party and Left parties held a dharna in front of the Collector’s camp office here on Monday in protest against the death of six infants allegedly due to lack of proper facilities at the Government General Hospital old premises on yesterday night.

TDP MLA and district convener Devineni Umamaheswara Rao led the Opposition protest programme by mounting pressure on the Government and the district administration with regard to the ex gratia and compensation to the family members of the victims. The opposition leaders and cadres staged a sit-in at the camp office raising slogans in support of their demands.

CPI(M) leader Chigurupati Babu Rao, CPI leader K. Subba Raju and scores of the opposition leaders and cadres from different parts of the city gathered at the venue and participated in the dharna programme.

Mr. Uamamaheswara Rao stepped up pressure by staying at the general hospital all through the night of Sunday. He blamed the Government and the authorities for failing to create necessary facilities like ventilators which resulted in the death of the infants.

Ex gratia

The Opposition leaders relented and wound up their dharna only after receiving a promise from District Collector Peeyush Kumar that the administration would make all efforts to provide compensation to the bereaved families.

Mr. Kumar reportedly promised the opposition delegation that their demand for Rs. 5 lakh ex gratia for each family be actively pursued with the 3-member committee that would enquire into the cause of the infants’ deaths.

Mr. Umamaheswara Rao said that the District Collector had sympathetically responded to their demand for compensation and they were hopeful of the benefits being passed on to the victims’ families in a week or so.

Mr. Rao also expected the authorities to ensure that the bereaved families get a house sanctioned under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) somewhere in the city.

The Opposition leaders also demanded that the administration pay the expenditure incurred by the victims’ families for the treatment so far.

They said that if there was no positive outcome of their meeting with the authorities in the next few days, they would intensify their agitation besides bringing pressure for providing good infrastructural facilities at the Government General Hospital.