Ajay Nishad said he could see what people are going through due to the encephalitis outbreak.
Encephalitis has claimed the lives of 126 children in Bihar until now, a majority from the Muzaffarpur area, and public anger against the administration is palpable. On his first visit to the city today, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was accosted by angry crowds who wanted to know why he had dropped by over 17 days after the start of the outbreak.
And yet, the authorities are being criticised for not taking the situation seriously enough. While Union Minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey had his eyes deceptively closed during a press meet on encephalitis on Sunday, Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey drew widespread criticism for enquiring about an ongoing cricket match at another event held for the purpose. But the proverbial cherry on top came only today, with a local BJP lawmaker admitting that a few "tiny mistakes" may have come to pass in the battle against the deadly disease.
"We are ruling at both the state and central levels, and so we do understand what the people are going through. The Chief Minister has admitted that the government may have made a few tiny mistakes in tackling encephalitis," Muzaffarpur parliamentarian Ajay Nishad told NDTV.
Ajay Nishad attributed the viral outbreak to a deadly combination of four Gs that plagues the state. "The heat, which has been particularly oppressive this time, helped in the spread of the disease. And encephalitis, as you know, is caused by garmi (heat), gandhagi (unhygienic conditions), garibi (poverty) and gaon (villages). It is important to know that most of the children who died belonged to rural areas, were poor, lived in unhygienic conditions, and were affected by the heat," he said.
Doctors claim that only the monsoon, which is still over a week away, can effectively arrest the spread of the viral disease, which causes flu-like symptoms such as high fever, convulsions and headaches in patients.
The Centre has promised to set up a state-of-the-art research centre within a year to tackle future encephalitis outbreaks. Bihar Chief Secretary Deepak Kumar has also declared that the Shri Krishna Medical College And Hospital in Muzaffarpur will be converted into a 2,500-bed institution.
(With inputs from Agencies)