Odisha govt trying to hide Encephalitis deaths in Malkangiri: BJP

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Bhubaneswar: The state BJP today came down on the Odisha government for its failure in containing the outbreak of Japanese Encephalitis in Malkangiri district.

At a press meeting here today, BJP state general secretary Bhrugu Buxipatra said while the state government has put the number of deaths at 56, the fact is that more than 150 children have died of Encephalitis in this southern Odisha district.

“Besides, children of 99 villages of six blocks are afflicted with the disease while nine children have died in last three days. From this, it is clearly evident that the state government is trying its best to hide the facts,” he added.

“We want to ask the state government to give a detailed list of distribution of 60 lakh mosquito nets supplied by the Centre in the affected areas of the state including Malkangiri district. Besides, the Odisha State Medical Corporation Ltd (OSMCL) has the money to purchase 30 lakh mosquito nets. The state government has not purchased 30 lakh mosquito nets since last two years as it has not floated any tender. The concerned minister had made a statement in this regard in the State Assembly. The Encephalitis death in Malkangiri district is due to the delay in the distribution of mosquito nets. Had the state government keen on distribution of 90 lakh mosquito nets in all affected areas of the state including Malkangiri district, it could have done within a year and stopped Encephalitis deaths in Malkangiri,” Buxipatra observed.

He also informed that the state government, which had announced to provide 30 lakh mosquito nets, has provided only 11,000 till date which are not sanitised. “The Health secretary had also announced to provide 50,000 mosquito nets but not a single piece is distributed. Besides, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) had also announced to provide one crore mosquito nets for Odisha. But the state government has not taken any steps in this regard,” he lamented.

Talking about of culling of pigs in Malkangiri district, the BJP leader said the Health minister and secretary have informed the media that the state government has not come up with any notification in this regard till date. In spite of this, the Block Development Officers (BDOs) in Malkangiri district have engaged the villagers who have already killed nearly 5000 pigs. “These dead pigs have been buried without any scientific method. This unethical practice is still going on with the knowledge of the collector and all senior officials. Due to unscientific burial of the pigs, the underground water in Malkangiri district will be polluted in the coming days,” he warned.

Buxipatra further said while the Encephalitis has assumed alarming proportions in Malkangiri district, there is gross mismatch in the statement of the Health secretary, the concerned minister and the Chief Minister.  But the file in the State Secretariat is not able to move from one floor to the other floor.

“The most unfortunate thing is that the state government till date has neither provided financial assistance to the families of the children who have died of Encephalitis and nor to those whose pigs have been killed by the district administration.  Till date more than 150 children have died of Encephalitis and more than 5000 pigs have been killed in Malkangiri,” he pointed out.

Also read: BJP targets Odisha govt, kicks off Lajja Satyagrah in state

Reacting to the allegation of the BJP, BJD spokesperson Sashibhusan Behera said the Opposition is trying to create confusion and take political mileage on this issue. As a result, people of Malkangiri district are now in a state of panic.

He, however, said apart from highlighting irregularities, the Opposition has the duty to advise the government.

Stating that the state government has seriously taken up the death of children in Malkangiri district due to Japanese Encephalitis, Behera said the state government will review the allegation of the Opposition on non-distribution of sanitised mosquito nets. “Stern action would be taken if any administrative lacuna is found in this case,” he maintained.

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