Cabinet defers considering proposal to tackle JE/AES

New Delhi: The Union Cabinet today deferred considering a Rs 4,000-crore multi-pronged proposal to tackle Japanese Encephalitis and Acute Encephalitis Syndrome which have so far claimed almost 1,000 lives in the country this year.

Sources say the Cabinet deferred considering the proposal due to the absence of Finance Minister P Chidambaram, as funding of the proposed multi-crore plan was to be discussed in detail.

The plan to tackle JE/AES was to be taken up by the Cabinet on the basis of recommendations made by the Group of Ministers (GoM) for evolving a multi-pronged strategy to tackle the virus.

The plan involves stepping up healthcare, water and sanitation facilities for the affected persons, besides improving their nutrition and rehabilitation plan involving the five ministries of Health and Family Welfare, Rural Development and Drinking Water and Sanitation, Women and Child Development and Social Justice and Empowerment, say sources.

The absence of Minister for Rural Development and Drinking Water and Sanitation Jairam Ramesh from the Cabinet meeting today was also a reason for not taking up the issue, as the two ministries are considered key in the proposed strategy to tackle the virus.

While the biggest component of around Rs 2,000 crore is of the Drinking Water and Sanitation Ministry, the Health Ministry will contribute to the extent of Rs 1,300 crore and the remaining by the other Ministries. Due to shortage of funds, some Ministries have agreed to finance the plan through their own budgetary resources, the sources say.

The GoM had in November last year made certain recommendations for tackling the deadly virus which has affected over 6,300 persons across the country till September.

Incidentally, even after almost 1,000 deaths due to the virus, the authorities have so far not been able to identify the virus in the worst affected states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.