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Impure water theory ruled out

A preliminary report has ruled out consumption of contaminated water as the cause behind the death of 11 people at Sugauli in East Champaran district, around 180km northwest of Patna.

Health department principal secretary Deepak Kumar said the samples of water were collected from the handpumps of the affected localities and sent to the laboratory for test. “The report has outright rejected contamination in the water, which was primarily suspected to be the reason behind the death,” he told The Telegraph.

The principal secretary, however, said the report of the viscera examination would be available to the department by Friday. “The viscera examination report would throw light on the cause of the death of the victims,” he said, adding that the post-mortem report, however, failed to establish the reason behind the death.

He admitted that the post-mortem conducted on the victims couldn’t help the administration reach any logical conclusion. The samples of water were collected from the spot at the behest of officials of the public health and engineering department to verify if it was a case of contaminated water.

He said a team of forensic experts from Patna had visited the spot and gathered samples after the death of seven persons in mysterious circumstances within 24 hours.

On the other hand, the post-mortem on another victim hailing from neighbouring Bahuarva village under the jurisdiction of Majaulia police station in West Champaran confirmed the death of one Vinod Das owing to consumption of spurious liquor.

Das (28) died on Sunday, the day seven deaths were reported from Phulwaria panchayat and parts of nagar panchayats under Sugauli sub-division in East Champaran district.

A team of excise department officials conducted raids at several places and detained five persons on the charge of selling illicit liquor.

The team headed by district excise superintendent Dinbandhu swung into action after the residents complained about sale of illicit liquor in Gorigama and its adjoining villages.

On Thursday, a group of activists of the CPI-ML (Liberation) blocked the Suguali-Raxaul road for a few hours in protest against the incident, which, they claimed, was a fallout of lackadaisical attitude of the excise department officials. The protesters were demanding disciplinary action against the local officials of the excise department and the station house officer of Sugauli police station.

Sugarcane minister A.P. Kushwaha called on the relatives of the victims and promised to provide adequate compensation.

He directed the officials to provide the women of benefits of the government’s widow pension scheme.