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Uproar in Bihar Assembly as Nitish Kumar breaks silence on AES deaths

"What happened is extremely unfortunate. Expressing grief is not enough, it is an extremely serious issue. We have held several meetings and discussed the issue at length."

Uproar in Bihar Assembly as Nitish Kumar breaks silence on AES deaths
File photo

After weeks of silence on the matter, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar on Monday opened up on the death of children due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome in the state. Stating that there has been no negligence on the part of his government, he said that no politics should be played in the matter. State health minister Mangal Pandey also said proper arrangements have been put into place to treat the affected children but his speech was met with massive uproar from members of rival parties.

Nitish government has been under fire after at least 173 children died due to AES, a majority of them from Muzaffarpur. The condition of state-run hospitals have been exposed but Nitish said the matter is under control. "What happened is extremely unfortunate. Expressing grief is not enough, it is an extremely serious issue. We have held several meetings and discussed the issue at length," he said while also hinting that such medical conditions have been seen in the past as well. "I held a meeting at AIIMS Patna in 2015 and various experts had different views as to what is the reason of it. A report was even sent to the US to get expert opinion on it and all had different views."

Admitting that most hospitals in the state do not have adequate beds to treat patients, Nitish also said that efforts are on to ensure cure as well as prevention.

Pandey, meanwhile, said that awareness programs have been carried out in the past and that guidelines related to AES had been formulated in 2013 itself. His speech, however, was interrupted repeatedly by rival political leaders in the Assembly who demanded accountability.