The Supreme Court on Monday while expressing concern over encephalitis deaths asked for answers from Bihar goverment. The state has responded in affirmation and said that it has taken steps and things were “under control”.
The court asked the government to reply on the adequacy of medicines, nutrition and hygiene, following which the state said that “things were under control” and sought 10 days to file a written reply. However, the court granted it seven days to file a response.
During the hearing, one of the lawyers informed the court that similar deaths had occurred earlier in Uttar Pradesh.
A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and B R Gavai took note of it and directed the state government to file its response as well. The matter has been posted for hearing after 10 days.
The petitioners, Manohar Pratap and S Ajmani, had in a PIL claimed that the Bihar government’s measures are inappropriate and not enough to control the outbreak of the disease in Muzaffarpur. Therefore, the apex court should pass appropriate directions in this regard.
The issue was recently raised in the Rajya Sabha, too. CPI MP Binoy Viswam had said that officially 130 children have died but the number is as high as 180. He added that hospitals have no medicines and infrastructure to treat children suffering from encephalitis, a type of brain disease.
Malnutrition and unsafe water is responsible for the deaths, the CPI said, adding 24 lakh children die every year due to malnutrition. He sought urgent improvement in health system and medical infrastructure and payment of “adequate compensation” to families of victims.