Nitish govt faces oppn flak after COVID death toll revision

By: |
June 10, 2021 9:30 PM

Lapping up the issue, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav accused the state government of “mismanaging” the fight against coronavirus by presenting “farzi” (fake) data.

Bihar CM Nitish KumarBihar CM Nitish Kumar

The revision of Bihar’s COVID-19death toll by including 3,951 unreported fatalities triggered a political slugfest on Thursday, with opposition RJD accusing the Nitish Kumar government of “botching up” the fight against the pandemic and ruling members defending it as an administrative matter that has been corrected.

The figures were drastically revised to 9,429 by the state Health Department on Wednesday following amended reports from the districts.

However, it was not specified as to when these additional deaths had taken place though a district-wise breakup was provided.

Going by the fresh figures, the number of lives lost in the second wave of the pandemic is close to 8,000, nearly a six-fold increase in fatalities due to COVID-19 since April.

Additional Chief Secretary (Health) Pratyaya Amrit, who had made public the revised death toll on the previous day, said that the officials responsible for improper reporting of figures would be taken to task.

He also made it clear that the new inclusions will also get Rs 4 lakh ex-gratia as paid to families of those dying of COVID-19 earlier.

However, the matter has created a row in politically sensitive Bihar.

Lapping up the issue, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav accused the state government of “mismanaging” the fight against coronavirus by presenting “farzi” (fake) data.

“Nitish jee had tried to bury the truth about many COVID victims. When caught suddenly added up 4,000 figures in a day,” Yadav tweeted.

He was referring to the recent order given by the Patna High Court to reverify the COVID fatalities tally.

Following the HC order, the Health Department had asked the district administrations to recheck. Based on the fresh inputs, the errors were fixed.

“When the government itself is ‘farzi’, then the data will also be farzi,” Yadav, the leader of the opposition, said in another Twitter post.

He claimed that “20 times more deaths have happened due to COVID in Bihar than the data presented by the Nitish government”.

State Health Minister and BJP leader Mangal Pandey tried to play safe, saying that after coming to know from various sources that the death toll due to COVID is more than what was reported, the government proactively went on course correction.

He said there was no intention to hide anything. JD(U) spokesperson and MLC Niraj Kumar echoed similar views.

“After all, it’s the Bihar government which has come out with a revised figure after fresh verification exercise…had there been any intention to hide something, such an exercise would not have been taken up,” he said.

He took a swipe at Yadav for allegedly remaining absent from the ground when people are battling the coronavirus surge and instead making political statements against the state government on social media platforms.

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