The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Politics beats CM to death zone

Behrampore, June 18: The CPM leadership in Murshidabad will hand over a memorandum to chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee when he is here tomorrow to take stock of the situation in the wake of the spate of child deaths in the past few weeks.

The party will not demand action against health officials. Instead, it will call for the improvement of the overall health care system in the district, particularly that in the Jangipur subdivision.

The Congress, however, has branded the health officials of the district as apathetic and called a 12-hour bandh on June 20. District party chief Adhir Chowdhury had got in touch with Union health minister Sushma Swaraj, who promised to send a senior ministry official on a fact-finding mission.

“Nineteen children have died in Lalgola subdivision from an unknown fever and 23 have perished in Jangipur of various diseases, including encephalitis. However, the situation is under control in Lalgola because of the efforts made by the district health department,” said Madhu Bagh, the CPM’s district secretary.

Bagh accused the Congress of politicising the issue of child deaths. “Instead of standing by the parents of the children who are affected, the Congress has called a bandh. We did not anticipate a bandh called by a political party in such a time,” he said.

Moinul Hasan, an MP and CPM state committee member, was critical of the condition at the Jangipur Subdivisional Hospital. “Leaves for health department employees have been cancelled since yesterday but Jangipur does not have a subdivisional medical officer for the past eight months. We have registered our protest in this regard and we will also inform the chief minister about the state of affairs tomorrow,” Hasan said.

Despite leaves being banned, of the 27 doctors at the Jangipur hospital, only eight were present today. Hospital sources said some of them had not yet been informed about the cancellation.

Bhattacharjee is arriving here at noon tomorrow and will meet officials at the circuit house. He will leave for Calcutta after lunch. Director of health services Prabhakar Chatterjee, minister of state for health Pratyush Mukherjee and health secretary Asim Barman will also be present.

After being rapped by Bhattacharjee for inadequate response to the child deaths issue, the government sat up. Mukherjee and Barman left for Behrampore this evening.

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