Central help sought as Orissa’s cholera epidemic worsens

September 14th, 2010 - 9:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Sep 14 (IANS) With cholera and other water-borne diseases rapidly spreading in Orissa’s Rayagada tribal heartland and claiming some 39 lives, the state unit of the opposition Congress Tuesday sought the central government’s intervention to tide over the crisis.
Holding the Orissa government responsible for the epidemic, working president of the state Congress unit Lalatendu Bidyadhar Mohapatra said the state’s ministers were busy in rallies and spending money on helicopter rides while the people did not have rice to eat.

“We are demanding immediate intervention of the central government as the lives of the poor and the deprived are under threat,” he added.

“The deaths are not new in the region. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik himself visited Rayagada district in 2007 and assured that drinking water and other required facilities would be provided to the people,” Mohapatra told reporters here.

“However, nothing has been done yet. He (Patnaik) and his council of ministers should visit the affected regions again this year and apologize to the people,” he added.

Cholera and other water-borne diseases, which have claimed 39 lives since August, have infected 124 more people in Rayagada district in the last two days, an official said Tuesday.

According to the latest data, the number of people and villages affected by the diseases has risen to 784 and 156 respectively.

“Over 100 more people have been infected and the diseases have been reported from 54 new villages,” an official of the health control room told IANS.

However, Mohapatra who has returned to state capital after visiting the affected areas, said more then 90 people had died of cholera and diarrhea and some 1,000 more were affected.

“There has been no improvement in communications and healthcare. The public distribution system is not working. Money meant for National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme has remained unspent,” he alleged.

“People are eating wild roots and infected food,” Mohapatra said, showing reporters some fungus-covered food items he collected from the region during his visit.

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