SC Worried On Encephalitis Deaths; Asks Centre & Bihar Govt To File Response Within A Week
Following the increasing number of child deaths in Bihar due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome, the Supreme Court on June 24 lashed out at the Centre and the state government. The apex court asked them to submit a report within the next seven days.
A bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and BR Gavai while hearing a plea filed by advocates Manohar Pratap and Sanpreet Singh Ajmani concerning the encephalitis death, has asked the Bihar government to file an affidavit on the adequacy of medical facilities, nutrition and sanitation and hygiene condition in the state. The next hearing will be after ten days, i.e.., on July 4.
The apex court’s order came on a day when the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s court in Muzaffarpur – which has seen the highest number of Encephalitis deaths, ordered a probe against Union health minister Harsh Vardhan and Bihar health minister Mangal Pandey in the matter.
The Supreme Court also raised questions on the policy initiatives taken in the state. While hearing the plea, the bench addressed the reports of villages where there are no children left. After hearing from one of the lawyers that Uttar Pradesh in the past had witnessed similar deaths due to Encephalitis, the top court asked how UP tackled the disease.
The plea filed by the advocates had asked the Supreme Court to constitute an urgent medical expert team for treatment of children suffering from encephalitis. The advocates also urged the apex court to direct the state government to pay a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the bereaved families in every case. The Bihar government has earlier announced a compensation of Rs 4 lakh to next of kin of the deceased.
In reply, the state government assured the Supreme court that all the necessary steps were taken to tackle the Encephalitis outbreaks in Muzaffarpur and mentioned that the situation is now under control.
Outrage in Rajya Sabha
Recently, the matter was also raised in the upper house – Rajya Sabha, after CPI MP Binoy Viswam, said that the actual children death might be as high as 180, but the official figures were 130. He added that malnutrition and unsafe water were the main reason for deaths. He also asked for an urgent improvement in the healthcare system and medical infrastructure in the state.
The Bihar government has been at the receiving end of criticism since the initial reports of child deaths were reported. Bihar CM Nitish Kumar when visited Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital after a week of the outbreak, he was gheraoed by protesters outside the hospital.
As of now, 156 death children have lost their lives due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome in Muzaffarpur district. According to reports, the AES outbreak has impacted 20 out of the 40 districts in the state, and more than 600 children contracted the disease.