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Over 20 Lakh Stranded Outside Given Aid, Says Bihar CM; Launches Projects Worth Over Rs 500 Crore

File photo of Bihar CM Nitish Kumar. (PTI)

File photo of Bihar CM Nitish Kumar. (PTI)

The CM said a "massive state expenditure" has been made towards establishment of thousands of block-level quarantine centres, where migrants returning from outside Bihar were lodged upon arrival for a mandatory 14-day period and given food, shelter and medical help.

More than 20 lakh people from Bihar, stuck outside the state during the lockdown, have been provided with help including monetary aid by the state while those who came back were taken good care of at the quarantine centres, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said on Saturday.

Kumar made the remarks during video conference at a function organized by the health department, where foundation was laid for projects worth Rs 542.81 crore and additional ones worth Rs 88.38 crore were thrown open to the public.

"There are some people who seem to be interested mainly in akhbaarbaazi (getting their names published) by issuing statements... our priorities are different, we believe only in work," said the chief minister, in a veiled rebuff to the opposition which had been accusing his government of neglecting migrant workers.

"We came out with the scheme of providing Rs 1,000 to each native of Bihar, stuck elsewhere because of lockdown, and this has benefited 20.40 lakh people so far. In addition, those who have chosen to come back are also being given the same amount," he added.

The CM said a "massive state expenditure" has been made towards establishment of thousands of block-level quarantine centres, where migrants returning from outside Bihar were lodged upon arrival for a mandatory 14-day period and given food, shelter and medical help.

The state government has also pledged an amount of Rs 1,000, inclusive of travel fare, to each migrant worker upon completion of the quarantine period.

These quarantine centres were set up more than a month ago when migrants began to return to the state in droves.

Recalling the state's successful battles against the polio virus and kala azar - a vector-borne disease which had a high incidence in north Bihar - Kumar urged people to take guard against the novel coronavirus by putting on masks when venturing out of their homes and observing social distancing norms.

"We have eradicated polio. We intend to eradicate Kala Azar as well, having contained it to a considerable extent," the chief minister said.

The occasion on Friday was marked by the inauguration of a 100-bed pediatric ICU at the Shri Krishna Medical College and Hospital in Muzaffarpur, which was commissioned by the Chief Minister last year after an outbreak of brain fever claimed more than 100 lives at the facility within a month.

The CM stated that his government had, following the outbreak of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome, conducted a "socio-economic survey" of the affected families most of which were spread across five blocks in Muzaffarpur.

The affected were provided with assistance like ration cards, and anganwadi areas were set up in the vicinity. The government also ensured that children in those areas were sent to school, Kumar noted.

The CM also said a major expansion was on the cards for the Muzaffarpur-based hospital, besides PMCH at Patna - the largest state-run hospital in Bihar- the IGIMS, which is situated in the Bihar capital and developed on the pattern of AIIMS, and other leading hospitals in Darbhanga and Gaya.

"Vast improvement has been seen in the upkeep of primary health centres where the number of patients received in a month has risen exponentially - from 39 in 2006 to more than 10,000 at present," he claimed.

Besides, upgradation and expansion of 21 district hospitals across the state is expected to be completed by 2022, he added.