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Rights notice on encephalitis

- Move comes after Assam govt’s ‘failure’ to check disease

Guwahati, Aug. 1: The Assam Human Rights Commission today served a notice to state chief secretary Jitesh Khosla asking the government to conduct an inquiry into allegations of not taking proper measures to prevent the outbreak of Japanese encephalitis in the state.

The inquiry report will have to be submitted to the commission within a month.

It has served the notice after registering a suo-motto case on the basis of a petition filed by a former AGP leader Zoii Nath Sarmah.

The petitioner alleged that the state government has violated human rights by not taking effective measures on time to prevent spreading of the disease.

While Japanese encephalitis has so far claimed over 100 lives across Assam, more than 200 people have died because of acute encephalitic syndrome (AES). Nearly 2,000 people have tested positive with Japanese encephalitis and acute encephalitic syndrome.

The AGP, too, was planning to move the commission against alleged negligence of the state government in preventing the spread of disease.

AGP in-charge president Atul Bora told this correspondent today that despite the loss of so many lives because of Japanese encephalitis and acute encephalitic syndrome, the state government had not yet bothered to take up steps on a war footing to prevent the spread of the disease. The tall claims of the Gogoi government to control the disease by carrying out adult vaccination drive against Japanese encephalitis has fallen flat after the loss of so many lives, he added.

“We want to ask chief minister Tarun Gogoi whether he is waiting for more deaths before taking effective measures to prevent the spread of Japanese encephalitis and acute encephalitic syndrome. The AGP will not wait for an answer from the chief minister,” Bora said.

“The party will approach the Assam Human Rights Commission next week to lodge a complaint against the state government for its negligence to prevent and control encephalitis. We will make a plea before the rights panel to instruct the government to pay adequate compensation to the families of those who died of encephalitis.”

Bora also demanded the BJP-led NDA government to depute a central team of experts and doctors to Assam to assess the situation.

On the other hand, the chief minister today directed the health authorities to step up the preventive measures to check the spread of the two diseases. He instructed the health authorities to spread bleaching powders, conduct fogging at the piggeries and hold awareness campaigns.

Gogoi took stock of the quantity of medicine available in the hospitals and health centres.

The health department has been asked to procure medicine to tackle shortages.

The chief minister instructed the health officials to issue daily bulletins on the preventive measures taken up by the department to contain the disease, stockpile of medicine in all hospitals and health centres and other vital information for the people as well as the print and electronic media.

A health department official said 24 districts, including Barpeta, Nagaon, Baksa, Darrang, Sonitpur, Nalbari and Bongaigaon have been affected.

A control room has been set up at the office of the mission director, National Rural Health Mission (NRHM). Such control rooms are functioning in all the districts.