Seeks Centre, Bihar Response Within 7 Days

AmitAnand.Choudhary

New Delhi:

Terming the death of more than 150 children in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur due to acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) an “extraordinary” situation requiring immediate attention, the Supreme Court on Monday sought an explanation from the Centre and the Bihar government on the steps taken to control the disease.

A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and B R Gavai said people had a basic right to medical care, nutrition and hygienic environment, and the death of such a large number of children was unacceptable. The court said it had to be found out why such a situation had occurred and called for a response in seven days.

The SC asked for a response on three aspects—the availability of public medical care facilities, nutrition, and sanitation and hygiene in the areas affected by the disease.

Probe Vardhan and state minister: Court

Muzaffarpur CJM Suryakant Tiwari has ordered a probe into allegations of negligence against Union health minister Harsh Vardhan and his Bihar counterpart Mangal Pandey in dealing with AES cases. On a plea, he transferred the case to a special MP-MLA court to take cognisance of the claims and record statements.

AES situation is ‘absolutely under control’, says govt

Though additional solicitor general Vikramajit Banerjee told the bench that the governments were taking all necessary steps to deal with the outbreak of the disease and claimed the situation is “absolutely under control”, the bench decided to examine the issue in the light of the outbreak becoming an annual phenomenon.

The petition, filed by advocate Manohar Pratap, sought a direction to the Centre for providing all necessary medical equipment for the effective treatment of children suffering from the disease.

He sought the SC’s direction to Centre and the state government to immediately arrange 500 intensive care units with the required medical professionals to deal with the emergent situation due to the outbreak of the disease.

“This year the epicentre of the disease is Muzaffarpur in Bihar where more than 126 children have lost their lives in the past one week. Media reports show that there is acute shortage of doctors, medical facilities, intensive care units and other medical equipment in the hospitals in nearby areas and children are dying in hospitals due to lack of required facilities,” the petition said.

The court also sought a response from the UP government as the petitioner contended that similar deaths of children took place there last year.

The petitioner said the deaths were a direct result of negligence and inaction on the part of the UP & Bihar governments and Centre’s handling of the epidemic situation which arises every year. A separate petition, filed by advocate Shiv Kumar Tripathi, alleged that more than 1,000 children have lost their lives due to AES in Muzaffarpur itself in the last one decade.

Lack of facilities in hosps worries HC

The Patna high court on Monday expressed concern over the lack of infrastructure in government hospitals in Bihar. While hearing a PIL filed by Vikas Chandra alias Guddu Baba, the single bench of Justice Jyoti Saran was also surprised to know that posts of pharmacists were lying vacant in premier hospitals. He warned the principal secretary (health) against non-compliance of an earlier directive and said he would be fined Rs 50,000 if he failed to adhere to the order. TNN