UP and Bihar have been hit badly by the Acute Encephalitis syndrome. The toll as on Saturday stood at 159 in Bihar and 88 in UP.
While steps are being taken to provide good treatment to others affected by it, the medical experts’ opinion is that this disease is largely because of unhealthy drinking water supply and lack of cleanliness in rural areas, said Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh. “If the state governments give proper attention to supply of potable water, this epidemic can be checked to a great extent,” he said. He has asked the state governments to send a proposal to his ministry for additional assistance. ”In 2012-13, Rs 10,500 crore has been allocated for rural water supply across the country of which Rs 525 crore has been earmarked only for improving quality of drinking water. Of this Rs 525 crore, Biharwill get Rs 61 crore,” he said.
“Bihar is facing scarcity of drinking water but it failed to utilize the funds. In two years, the state failed to avail Rs 500 crore which was to be given as second instalment. In 2012-13, Bihar has been sanctioned Rs 497 crore,” Ramesh said.
Contamination of the drinking water by arsenic, fluoride, iron etc are also of great concern and about 1.08 lakh habitations across the country are facing this problem. “Arsenic is a serious problem and it leads to cancer. This problem is grave in Bihar, West Bengal and Assam while fluoride is found in Bihar, Karnataka, Rajasthan and MP,” he added.