Children's deaths: Bihar families yet to get compensation



Patna: Families of hundreds of children who died of acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) in Bihar are yet to be paid compensation announced by the state government last month, an official said Monday.

Nearly 20 days after the state announced compensation of Rs.50,000 each from the Chief Minister's relief fund to families of children who died of AES, the health department has not finalised payment so far, the official said.

He told a news agency on condition of anonymity that the compensation issue was yet to move beyond the files.

"Going by the slow pace of government procedure, it is not easy for them (victims' families) to get compensation," he said.

According to him, there is no serious effort to speed up the paperwork for disbursing compensation.

"The department officials are working to pay a monetary compensation to the kin of children who died of AES, but it will take some more time," state Health Minister Ashwani Kumar Choubey told a news agency.

Gyan Bhushan, the civil surgeon of Muzaffarpur district, the worst affected by AES, said that till date he has not received any circular or information from the concerned department about payment of compensation.

Officials in the Chief Minister's Office said that the decision on compensation was taken by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar because most victims belonged to the poorest of poor sections.

AES has claimed the lives of 238 children till date, and nearly 600 others have been affected by it.

The disease is not Japanese encephalitis, it was revealed by the Pune-based National Institute of Virology (NIV) last week.

The NIV has informed the Bihar government that no one had tested positive for Japanese encephalitis. The NIV collected cerebral spinal fluid and blood samples of 73 patients from Muzaffarpur district.

IANS