BJP member Rajiv Pratap Rudy on Friday urged the government to probe the link between litchis and deaths of children due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome in Muzaffarpur (AES) alleging a conspiracy.
In a debate during the Zero Hour at the parliament, Rudy participated and said that the situation in Bihar was worrisome. The parliamentarian from Saran also rubbished claims that the AES outbreak was a result of consuming litchis:
"We are told that eating litchi by children in Bihar's Muzaffarpur may be cause of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES). This is a conspiracy to damage the brand name of litchi. We are eating litchis since childhood but we did not suffer from AES," said Rudy
Rudy also highlighted that litchi farming in Bihar is known worldwide:
"The Muzaffarpur litchis are famous worldwide. Its a thousand crore business." he claimed
The MP further claimed that the misinformation has led to an alternative approach as people have stopped eating litchi or drinking litchi juice. Rudy demanded the government's probe in the matter as he said that the whole conspiracy was tarnishing the fruit's brand name and also harming the Indian litchi farming community interests.
"The government must probe if there is conspiracy to harm interest of Indian litchi farmers by linking death of children due to AES in Muzaffarpur to consumption of litchi," he said.
The AES epidemic has claimed the lives of more than 100 children in Bihar's Muzaffarpur. Independent child specialist and former head of Indian Association of Pediatrics, Bihar Arun Shah suspected that a high concentration of toxin in unripe litchis is the reason for the deadly outbreak in Muzaffarpur.
Regardless of Shah's claims, the medical opinions of the outbreak among experts remain divided. The AES is a serious neurological illness that causes inflammation of the brain. Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury lashed out at the state and union government for their careless attitude.
Chowdhury also pointed out that the ratio of patients and doctors is lowest in Bihar. Last Sunday, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had visited patients of the Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) and assured families of complete assistance from the centre.
While doctors have maintained that deaths occurred due to AES, state officials claim that most of victims below the age of 10, died due to hypoglycemia-a condition caused by low level of blood sugar, electrolyte imbalance due to high temperature and extreme humidity.
(With inputs from PTI)