Reports that doctors conducted 32 cataract surgeries under torchlight at a hospital in Unnao district are a “sad commentary on the status of infrastructure facilities available in hospitals in Uttar Pradesh”, the National Human Rights Commission said on Wednesday. It took suo moto cognisance of the negligence and issued a notice to the state government.

On Monday night, doctors at a primary healthcare centre in Unnao conducted 32 cataract surgeries under torchlight after a power cut at the facility. The Uttar Pradesh government suspended the chief medical officer of the district after a video of the operations was circulated.

The National Human Rights Commission on Wednesday highlighted that among the infrastructural drawbacks at hospitals in Uttar Pradesh, the lack of backup power supply stood out. The Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary Rajive Kumar has two weeks to submit details of the patients operated on, reasons why the operation theatre did not have backup power supply and also what action was taken against the doctors who performed the cataract surgeries.

NGO Jagdamba Sewa Samiti had reportedly brought the patients to the centre from Kanpur for a free eye surgery. The district administration is looking into why the doctors went ahead with the operations despite the power cut.

Hospital infrastructure in Uttar Pradesh has been in focus since August, when more than 60 children died at the Baba Raghav Das Medical College and Hospital in Gorakhpur over a week. The children allegedly died after a shortage of oxygen supply at the hospital, but the state government has maintained that the children died of encephalitis.