Bhubaneswar: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday announced an ex gratia of Rs 3 lakh and a pucca house to each of the families who lost their children to Japanese Encephalitis in Malkangiri district, even as the bandh called by Congress and BJP here evoked mixed response.
Patnaik made the announcement at a public meeting here during his visit to the district to laid foundation stones and inaugurate different projects.
Despite the bandh conducted by the opposition parties, over 10,000 people, mostly members of women self-help groups, attended the chief minister’s meeting amidst tight security. Both the opposition parties had called for the bandh protesting Patnaik’s visit to the Japanese Encephalitis-hit district.
“Since the chief minister did not visit the district when children were dying of the JE, we have given a bandh call in protest,” state Congress vice-president Pradip Majhi said.
Majhi is also on an indefinite hunger strike in front of the Raj Bhavan in Bhubaneswar demanding Rs 12 lakh compensation for the tribal families who lost their children to the killer disease.
While the Opposition claimed that about 500 children have died in a span of two months, the state government put the death toll at 110, of which 65 were kids.
Meanwhile, police arrested at least 15 BJP activists for showing black flag to the chief minister at the meeting venue.
While shops and business establishments remained closed, vehicular movement came to a grinding halt due to the bandh in the district headquarters town. About 32 platoons of police were deployed in the district headquarters town and its border was sealed.