Patna: With over 130 children dead so far in Bihar due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES), Chief Minister Nitish Kumar faced some serious protest on Tuesday when he arrived at a Muzaffarpur hospital to review the patient care situation only to be shown black flags and chant of 'go back' by the victims' family members.
Chanting 'Nitish Kumar Wapas Jao', hundreds of protestors stood by the road taken by the CM on his way to the hospital and waved black flags to express their anger over the government's failure to act swiftly at the outbreak of the deadly disease nearly three weeks ago.
Once at the Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH), Kumar met with the patient's family members and assured them of full support and complete care at the government's expenditure while also instructing health officials and senior district officers to leave no stone unturned in combating the epidemic that is not showing any sign of let up despite tall claims by the Nitish administration.
Kumar, however, turned his visit into a campaign rally of sort when he began talking about his ambitious plans to create 'world class' hospitals in the state instead of focusing on the dire situation at hand.
"I have asked the officials to make SKMCH from a 610-bed hospital into a 890-bed facility in the first phase and then raising the capacity to 2500 in the second phase. I have also directed them to build a 'dharmshala' for the family members of the patients," the Chief Minister said adding he had asked the administration to study the background of the patients' living condition and carry out an environmental study in an attempt to find out the reason for the outbreak of the disease.
Kumar then urged poor people of Muzaffarpur to take advantage of schemes like Prime Minister Awaas Yojana and Chief Minister Awaas Yojana to replace 'kachcha' homes from new 'pukka' homes with indoor toilet and running water.
Angered by the CM's casual approach to the epidemic, protestors said that while there was a serious problem at hand, Kumar was talking about solutions that would impact the future but not the present.
"This is no time for the Chief Minister to talk about hospitals to be built in future. Our children are dying today and we need to find a solution today and not tomorrow," said Pushpa Devi whose daughter remains in intensive care where she continues to battle AES.
The Chief Minister was accompanied by Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, Health Secretary Deepak Kumar and other senior health officials.