The Naveen Patnaik government on Tuesday came under sharp criticism from the Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress over diarrhoeal deaths in Odisha’s Rayagada and Koraput districts.
The death toll in diarrhoea outbreak in Rayagada district alone had crossed 14 while the government continued to stick to the count of nine, alleged BJP Chief Whip Mohan Charan Majhi during ‘Zero’ hour in the State Assembly.
Meanwhile, senior Congress leader Tara Prasad Bahinipati put the figure in the Dasmantpur block of Koraput district alone at three, putting the total death toll in the State as touching 17.
Waste water contamination
“An alumina refinery, which is operating in Tikiri area of Rayagada district, is discharging wastewater into a water-body, which could be the cause behind drinking water sources getting contaminated. The government is not alert on the disease outbreak,” said Mr. Majhi.
Mr. Bahinipati demanded stringent action against alumina refinery authorities for putting the lives of people in danger and compensation to the tune of ₹20 lakh for the next of kin of each diseased. Both BJP and Congress emphasized sending a House Committee of the Assembly to the affected areas of Rayagada and Koraput district for assessing the situation.
State Health and Family Welfare Minister Naba Kisor Das said, “The immediate concern of government is to control diarrhoea outbreak. Now, government teams are ready to attend to patients affected by the disease. The government will take action as per postmortem reports.”
Meanwhile, a spate of diarrhoeal cases has been reported from the Nuapada district. Opposition members said the deaths exposed the Naveen Patnaik government’s claim of providing safe drinking water at the doorstep of people.
Meanwhile a fact-finding team of National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), a forum of social activists, visited affected villages of Kashipur block of Rayagada district.
“Lack of clean water in villages is the major cause of the epidemic. Not every village has tube well and many of them are lying defunct for long. The administration has not made a regular safe water supply system available to those villages for which people are forced to source drinking water from small water-bodies, which are already contaminated”Prafulla SamantaraLead member, National Alliance of People’s Movements
“Lack of clean water in villages is the major cause of the epidemic. Not every village has tube well and many of them are lying defunct for long. The administration has not made a regular safe water supply system available to those villages for which people are forced to source drinking water from small water-bodies, which are already contaminated,” said Prafulla Samantara, a lead member of NAPM.
The NAPM also flagged the issue of lack of doctors in Kashipur area for attending patients.
“There are 13 sanctioned posts of doctors in Kashipur block to cater to 1.7 lakh population. However, only four doctors are posted. In 2007, there was severe spread of diarrhoea which took 70 lives in Kashipur block. This time, the government too failed to take necessary action to provide clean water and ensure proper sanitation in the locality,” alleged Mr. Samantara.