Litchi fruit disappears from markets after Odisha orders Encephalitis testing

Bhubaneswar: Litchis, which adorned the shelves of fruit sellers till yesterday, have surprisingly vanished from the markets, after the Odisha government ordered laboratory testing of the fruit following reports that its consumption is leading to spread of Encephalitis in Bihar.

Yesterday, Odisha Health minister, Naba Das had asked officials to collect samples of litchi being sold in the market and test it for any toxins affecting human health.

“State government should ensure that Bihar-like situation should not arise in Odisha. They should take adequate steps to stop the spread of Encephalitis,” said a Bhubaneswar resident.

Almost five tons of litchi were being brought from West Bengal’s Malda and Bihar’s Muzaffarpur to Bhubaneswar every day. Similarly, three tons of litchi used to get delivered to the markets of Cuttack.

“The old stocks of the litchi have been sold and now there is nothing left to sell,” said a fruit vendor.

Meanwhile, State Health Minister has said that Food Commissioner has been directed to find out how far litchi is responsible for the spread of AES.

“Not a single incident of AES has been reported in the State. Our department will handle the situation very well,” Das said.

Additional Collector of Cuttack, Srikant Tarai, said, “We are taking all the precautionary measures as per the direction of the Health Department.”