Botched eye surgeries: Centre asks for report from Punjab govt

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New Delhi/Chandigarh, Dec 5: The Centre on Friday sought a report from the Punjab government on the botched surgeries at an NGO-sponsored camp where at least 60 people lost their eyesight even as the state order a high-level probe into the incident in Gurdaspur.

"We have asked for a report from the Punjab government. But as we have been told that the operations were done by some NGO and it did not have the permission from the state government, we are finding out the details of it," Health Minister J P Nadda told reporters outside Parliament. [16 lose vision after botched-up eye surgery]

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The Centre is ready to assist the state government if it seeks help, he said. Reports from Amritsar had said yesterday that at least 60 people, all above 60 years and from poor economic background, lost their eyesight at the camp in Ghuman village of Gurdaspur district organised around 10 days ago. [Punjab Government orders probe into eye camp tragedy]

While 16 belonged to villages in Amritsar, the rest were from Gurdaspur district. Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today ordered a high-level probe into the botched surgeries.

Badal has asked Principal Secretary Health Vinnie Mahajan to personally conduct the inquiry into all the aspects of this unfortunate incident, an official spokesman said in Chandigarh. He has also directed Mahajan to visit the site of the camp for an on-the-spot assessment and for supervising and expediting relief to the victims and their families. [Punjab govt bans health camps without permission]

The Chief Minister has also announced an interim relief of Rs 1 lakh to each of the affected families, whose members have lost eyesight. Announcing free medical treatment for all the victims, Badal has directed that the patients should be re-examined for fresh treatment at the government level.

Civil Surgeon Amritsar, Rajiv Bhalla, has said the cataract surgeries were performed under "severe unhygienic condition" that left at least 60 patients with permamnently damaged eyes.

The incident emerged when patients from Amritsar approached the Deputy Commissioner to lodge a complaint against the NGO and doctors concerned.

One of the victims, Jaswant Singh said, "The world has become dark for me. I am poor man. I have lost my vision and also the money I had saved over the years. Doctors had diagnosed that my functional eye had cataract."

PTI

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