BJP MP Rajiv Pratap Rudy hints at China conspiracy in linking litchi to AES deaths in Muzaffarpur

BJP MP Rajiv Pratap Rudy on Friday demanded a probe into linking the deaths of children in Bihar's Muzaffarpur due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) to the litchi fruit. He hinted at a conspiracy by China to damage the renowned status of Indian litchi grown in Muzaffarpur in the world.

BJP MP Rajiv Pratap Rudy hints at China conspiracy in linking litchi to AES deaths in Muzaffarpur

New Delhi: BJP MP Rajiv Pratap Rudy on Friday demanded a probe into linking the deaths of children in Bihar's Muzaffarpur due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) to the litchi fruit. He hinted at a conspiracy by China to damage the renowned status of Indian litchi grown in Muzaffarpur in the world.

Raising the issue in the Zero Hour of Lok Sabha, Rudy said the situation in Bihar needs to be looked into seriously to prevent the litchi farmers from facing the brunt.

He said, “We are being told that the reason behind the children's deaths is litchi, but the fruit is being consumed since thousands of years and no deaths were reported earlier.”

Rudy asserted that the hypothesis, which has not been proved scientifically, has adversely affected the trade in Bihar as litchi is a “15-day crop and 40% of its cultivation happens in India.” Out of this, the majority of the fruit is produced in Muzzafarpur.

Rudy claimed that litchi grown in around 32,000 hectares, worth crores, has been stocked at the ports which is affecting the exports market drastically.

Around 50% of the produce is left unsold at the markets as people have stopped the consumption of litchi juice, he said.

Rudy also suggested that China, which is the second-largest producer of the fruit after India, could be behind spreading the misinformation to affect the Indian trade.

Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) has claimed the lives of 158 children in Bihar, with Muzzafarpur being the worst-affected with 122 deaths.

News agency PTI quoted child specialist Arun Shah who formerly headed the Bihar chapter of Indian Association of Pediatrics as saying that the consumption of unripe litchi containing a high concentration of toxin could be behind the AES outbreak in Muzaffarpur.

However, the real reason for the deadly disease has not been ascertained yet.