New Delhi, Jun 21 : Members cutting across all parties expressed concern on Friday over children succumbing to acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) in Bihar and said since litchi fruit is being most commonly blamed for the outbreak, farmers should not bear the brunt.
The encephalitis has already killed more than 100 children in Muzaffarpur district, renowned for its litchi fruit. However, experts say it is grossly wrong to blame this fruit.
Raising the issue during first Zero Hour in the 17th Lok Sabha, BJP member Rajiv Pratap Rudy said Litchi is a "15-day crop and 40 per cent of the fruit is grown in India".
Bihar's Shahi litchi has got the Geographical Indication (GI) tag and has become an exclusive brand in the national and international market, he said.
'We have been relishing litchi since childhood. Whether children died of litchi or not, we don't know. We are no researchers or doctors. We have to see is there any conspiracy behind it, 'said the member from Saran in Bihar.
The former Minister demanded that truth should be brought out at the earliest so that farmers growing litchi should not suffer.
Supporting his party colleague, another BJP member Jagdambika Pal said people in parts of West Bengal, Assam and Uttar Pradesh also were affected by the AES.
The syndrome was present in China, Japan and Korea earlier, but those countries are free of it and now, the malady is prevalent in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka, he said.
But he lamented that there was no treatment for the AES so it can be only checked.
Paschim Champaran member of BJP Dr Sanjay Jaiswal said a virology centre should be set up in Patna.
Congress floor leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said Muzaffarpur was the epicentre of the AES in Bihar and according to government, 135-500 deaths have taken place because of the syndrome.
He demanded that the government arrange Glucometers in Primary Health centres. Mr Chowdhury asked whether the AES affected not get treatment from the flagship government scheme 'Ayushman Bharat'. He also demanded adequate compensation for the victims.
Opposition members created an uproar and demanded that Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, who was sitting in the House, must respond to the issues raised by them.
But, the Chair, said the minister can not be compelled to reply during Zero Hour. (UNI)