With the encephalitis toll in eastern Uttar Pradesh mounting to 474 this year, the Centre on Friday announced setting up of a coordination committee of different Union ministries and said it was mulling short, middle and long-term plans to control the epidemic.

“A coordination committee comprising union ministries of Health, Water Resources and Irrigation, Social Justice and Women and Child Welfare would be formed after discussion with the Prime Minister. The committee will make a coordinated effort to tackle the problem,” Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said.

He was talking to reporters after visiting some of the affected areas. Mr. Azad was accompanied by Union Minister of State for Petroleum R.P.N. Singh, Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh and scientists from Indian Council of Medical Research.

Official sources said Mr. Azad’s visit came in the wake of a request by Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi.

Mr. Azad said the short, middle and long-term plans to control the epidemic will be worked out soon.

Terming the deaths in Gorakhpur Medical College Hospital as unfortunate, he said, “It seems that vaccination drives are not carried out in a transparent manner from time-to=time or else the situation would have been better.”

He said cooperation from all quarters was necessary to check spread of the epidemic and expressed concern over the shortage of para-medical staff.

The Union minister said the central government has also sanctioned 44 nursing schools in the state to overcome the problem.

“Japanese Encephalitis cases in eastern UP have come down from 36 percent in 2005 to 10 per cent this year, due to repeated vaccination drives but the cases of water-borne encephalitis are mounting,” he said.

Earlier, the minister reviewed the situation with the doctors and administrative staff of the district hospital here.