Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Sambalpur, Jan 17:
Family members of those who have died of or have been afflicted with jaundice in this western Odisha town today lodged FIRs against multiple agencies of the state government.
Led by local Congress leaders, they marched to the Town police station here to register FIRs against officials of the Sambalpur municipality, Health department, Pollution Control Board and Public Health department holding them responsible for the outbreak of the killer disease as well as its spread.
The people, who came in a rally shouting slogans, lodged 450 FIRs at the Town police station today. They demanded an assistance of Rs 10 lakh each for the family members of those killed due to jaundice and Rs 50,000 for those afflicted with the disease. The marchers came armed with test reports of blood samples and prescriptions issued to them for treatment.
“I myself, my son and my daughter are all suffering from jaundice. We are feeling weak and are unable to even stand up properly. Whatever food we are taking gets vomited. We are neither able to eat nor are able to drink. We are just suffering. I am a widow. Where will I get money for treatment from?” asked Rina Bag, a woman.
“We are people who need to work daily in order to earn our bread. We are unable to go to work. How are we going to meet expenses on treatment? I have come with all my test reports. I have spent the little money that I had on these tests. All my three children are suffering from jaundice. We consume water from the tap. They are saying tap water contains jaundice. There is nothing to eat in our homes as we are unable to go to work. We are in a very difficult situation. We are now on the streets,” said Anju Devi, another woman who was carrying all her test reports and had come to lodge her FIR at the police station.
The Congress has threatened to intensify its agitation in the near future by staging dharna if no compensation is paid to the families and appropriate action is taken.
“We have lodged FIRs today for initiating criminal proceedings against officials responsible for the outbreak and spread of jaundice and have demanded payment of compensation to the family members of those who have died of jaundice as well as those afflicted with the disease”, said Sureswar Mishra, senior Congress leader.
“In the coming days, we will organize family members of those killed due to the disease as well as those affected by the disease and demand compensation before the office of the collector and stage dharna. The city Congress committee will intensify its agitation on the issue of jaundice,” said Jai Shankar Mishra, an office bearer of the city Congress Committee.
“They have filed FIRs seeking action against officials responsible for this. We have received their FIRs and are trying to take whatever action is possible,” said Utkal Keshari Das, SDPO Sambalpur.
Reacting to the Congress’s move, local BJD MLA Dr Raseswari Panigrahi said; “They have been rejected by the people outright. They need an issue to make their presence felt. That is why they are indulging in such activities. It is going to have no impact.”
“The reality is whatever is required in such situations is being done. We are going to the people making them aware. The situation is now very much under control. Now is the time to raise awareness levels. If the people become aware, it will be completely eradicated,” said Dr Panigrahi.