The Supreme Court on Monday issued notices to the Centre, Bihar and the Uttar Pradesh government and asked all three to give their replies within seven days after a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed over the death of at least 160 children in several districts of Bihar due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES).
The notices were issued after the PIL was filed in the apex court in which the Bihar state government was accused of negligence and a request was made for the Centre to constitute a team of medical experts for Muzaffarpur and other areas in the state where children have died due to AES. The PIL has also requested that 100 mobile ICU units be dispatched to far-flung places in Bihar which have witnessed AES-related symptoms. The PIL also demands that the UP government makes adequate preparations to combat AES and provide medical assistance if, when and where required. It has called for all three governments to undertake awareness campaigns as well and demands that families of children who have died in Bihar due to AES be given Rs 10 lakh each as compensation.
Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice BR Gavai have asked Centre, Bihar and UP governments to respond and the next date of hearing has been fixed for 10 days from Monday.
The Bihar government is under tremendous pressure to act with reports of a crumbling and woefully inadequate medical infrastructure lying exposed here in the wake of the recent deaths. While Muzaffarpur is the worst hit by the outbreak of the brain fever, Vaishali, Sheohar and East Champaran are just some of the other districts where cases have been reported. CM Nitish Kumar is facing massive flak with family members of affected children making a number of charges ranging from apathy to lack of basic facilities.