Govt tweaked JE death figures: PCC chief

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Bhubaneswar: Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) president Prasad Harichandan on Monday alleged that the State government has ‘altered’ the numbers of child deaths due to Japanese Encephalitis (JE) in Malkangiri district so that it has to cough up less compensation.

Harichandan who was addressing a gathering near Raj Bhawan, where the party was holding a fast onto death strike for last seven days, demanded that the compensation amount for the kin of JE victims should be increased to Rs 12 lakh.

“I am sure the State government has tweaked with the number of JE deaths in Malkangiri district. While unofficially the number has touched nearly 500, it put the figures at 103. From this it is evident that the government wants to show minimum death cases and compensate accordingly”, Harichandan stated.

Questioning the announcement time of the compensation package of Rs 3 lakh before the panchayat polls, he demanded that the amount declared by the chief minister for each kin of the deceased must be hiked to Rs 12 lakh.

“It (compensation announcement) is a poll gimmick and only to woo the tribal voters. The amount is meagre for the tribals who have lost their children in the vector-borne disease. It must be increased to Rs 12 lakh”, he noted.
The Congress leader however warned that though it has called off the strike, the party’s fight for the rights of tribals will continue.

Former parliamentarian Pradeep Majhi said if their voices go unheard, they will hit streets in the coming days.

“If the govt does not pay heed to our demands, we will intensify our agitation and hit streets in the coming days. I have told the Governor categorically that we will not sit quiet. If we are not given justice, we will hit streets…It will be then turn into a mass movement and the State government will be responsible for the outcome”, Majhi noted.

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