Express News Service
PATNA: Bihar is among the top five states including West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, and Assam, in providing tap water supply to rural households in its 15 Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (JE-AES) affected districts.
The districts include Muzaffarpur, East Champaran, West Champaran, Samastipur, Vaishali, Saran, Siwan, Gopalganj, among others.
These districts report AES cases every year with Muzaffarpur reporting the most number of infections.
This year too, more than 28 cases of AES have been reported and at least eight children have died with symptoms akin to that of AES.
According to an official statement issued from the Jal Shakti Ministry, an average of 85.53 per cent tap water connections have been provided in all the 15 AES-reporting districts so far.
In Nalanda, 96 per cent of tap water supply connections have been provided while districts of Saran and Gopalganj followed suit with supply connection at 94 per cent.
Ninety-one per cent water supply connections were provided in Vaishali and Siwan, 84 per cent in West Champaran, and 80 per cent in East Champaran.
On a whole, about 97 lakh households have been provided the tap water supply in five Encephalitis affected states, including Bihar in the last 22 months.
The Japanese Encephalitis or the Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (JE-AES) poses a serious health hazard to children, who grow up are malnourished and live amid unhygienic surroundings.
“As many as 61 high priority districts in five states, Bihar included, are identified for strengthening prevention and control measures through five union ministries with Ministry of Health and Family Welfare as the nodal ministry. Jal Jeevan Mission is a key program in reducing the burden of disease in these districts,” the Jal-Shakti department’s official notice stated.
Quoting figures, Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said that when the Jal Jeevan Mission was announced on 15 august in 2019, only 8.02 lakh (2.67%) households in 61 JE-AES affected districts across the five states had tap water supply facilities.
“But in the last 22 months, tap water connections have been provided to additional 97.41 lakh households in these districts. Now, 1.05 Crore (35%) households have assured tap water supply in JE-AES affected districts. This 32% increase in household tap water connections in JE-AES priority districts is about 12% higher than the national average increase of 23.43% in tap water supply across the country during the same period,” Shekhawat’s official statement stated.
He also claimed the Jal Jeevan Mission significantly strengthens Encephalitis Preventive Measures, has allocated Rs. 463 crore to 5 states as JE-AES component for 2021-22.
Shekhawat in his letter to the Chief Ministers of Bihar Nitish Kumar and the other four states requested for provision of tap water to all households in the affected districts, as well as SC/ ST majority villages on a priority basis.
He also requested for provision of safe drinking water to schools, ashram shalas and Aanganwadi centres within the next few months.