Hours after Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar visited the Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) in Muzaffarpur after the death toll rose to as many as 130 children, Bihar chief secretary Deepak Kumar addressed the media about the decisions taken in the meeting by the Chief Minister. While he said that the CM was satisfied with the facilities inside the hospital, visuals suggest otherwise.
Republic TV analysed the facilities in the SKMCH in Muzaffarpur and the report was contrary to that claimed by the Bihar chief secretary and Bihar health secretary. While protestors outside the hospital had been stating since morning that water scarcity was a major issue, Republic TV also found that sanitation was another problem faced by the patients.
In the video, as the reporter enters the hospital, stagnant water can be seen collected on both sides of the road leading to the hospital. As per reports, before CM's visit, the hospital administration covered the area with lime plaster (chuna) so that the dirt could be hidden. However, the video clearly shows mosquitoes breeding in the water. Further, when he enters the hospital, stains can be seen near the wall and the door that leads to the ward where affected children are admitted.
When the reporter enters the Ward number 2 of Child specialist section, two children along with their guardian can be seen on a single bed, three children on the adjacent bed along with family members. Parents can also be seen sitting with the affected children on the floor due to lack of beds. Furthermore, the sanitation facilities were not adequate and drinking water facilities not available.
Meanwhile, Deepak Kumar - the chief secretary said that the Nitish-led government had taken four major steps to handle to situation. Citing it to be a major step, he said that the Nitish Government has decided to send a team to each of the victim's place to survey the situation in which children were kept. It has also decided to increase the number of beds in the SKMCH hospital general wards and in the ICU. He, however, said that the cause of the deaths has not been found until now.
On June 18, as the Bihar Chief Minister was leaving the venue at the Vidhan Sabha campus in Patna after paying tribute to Anugrah Narayan Sinha on his birth anniversary, Republic TV reporter confronted him and asked him if it is too late that he is visiting the patients in the Muzaffarpur hospital after days of the encephalitis outbreak. However, Nitish Kumar chose to duck and ignore the question "Isn't it too late?" as he sat in his car and left the venue.
As per reports, the death toll in Muzaffarpur district has reached 109, in Vaishali district 1 and in Samastipur 4, with the administration under Chief Minister Nitish Kumar blaming it on excessive heat and humidity, hypoglycemia, eating litchis on an empty stomach. However, despite the disease affecting the state every year, the questions as to why the state or Centre failed to combat this illness remains unanswered.
As Nitish Kumar visited the SKMCH hospital on Tuesday morning, protest broke out over his silence on the incident. A protestor outside the SKMCH hospital said: "CM cannot just sit in his car and walk away, he has to reply. We are protesting against the inefficiency of the government. Nitish Kumar must answer, he cannot come in an AC car and go."
Meanwhile, a case has been filed by social activist Tamanna Hashmi against Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey in a court in Muzaffarpur district on charges of negligence leading to the deaths of innocent children due to AES over a period of 9 days. Moreover, it was alleged that Union Health Minister of State Ashwini Kumar Choubey was sleeping during the press briefing on the Acute Encephalitis Syndrome by Union Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan.
Making a shocking remark on Tuesday while responding to questions of the media over Bihar government's inefficiency in taking adequate measures to prevent deaths of children and other patients due to AES in the state, Bihar Tourism Minister Pramod Kumar made an insensitive remark saying that no one can stop a disease, arguing that the Nitish Kumar administration is working for the people amid the outbreak.
Meanwhile, former Chief Minister Rabri Devi has targeted the 'double engine' government in the state of Bihar and said that negligence of the Nitish Kumar led government has led to the 'murder' of so many children.