Chhattisgarh Sterilisation Deaths: Government Concedes Medicines Contained Rat Poison

Chhattisgarh Health Minister Amar Agrawal

Bilaspur: Two weeks after the botched sterilisation deaths in Chhattisgarh, a drug sample report has confirmed the use of sub-standard medicines and the presence of zinc phosphide used as rat poison in the Ciprocin-500 tablets allegedly given to the victims in the tragedy.

Even as the government said action would be taken against all those responsible, the opposition Congress has begun a five-day padyatra to demand the resignation of the health minister.

"The drug report confirms the presence of poisonous substances, which also includes zinc phosphide. We have handed over the report to the police and they have to investigate now," Chhattisgarh Health Minister Amar Agrawal revealed to NDTV.

"It is shocking to find the presence of poisonous substances in our medicines. It is a challenge for the country," said Mr Agrawal, conceding that the government needs to keep a tab on the imposition of FDA regulations on the sale of medicines.

He also added that further action in the case would be taken by his government as soon as the judicial probe report comes in.

Action has so far been initiated against the pharmaceutical company that manufactured the medicines and the pharmacy that supplied them, apart from charges of medical negligence against the doctor in charge of the sterilisation camp. The Chief Medical and Health Officer, RK Bhange, who has been dismissed for his role in procuring the deadly medicines, however has said he could not be held responsible for the mishap.

The Congress, the opposition party in the state, has in the meanwhile taken out a five-day, 130 km padyatra from the sterilisation camp site in Pendari to Raipur, demanding the resignation of the health minister.

"We are not at all satisfied with the investigation. The government is trying to cover up. It is acting against the people but not the real culprits who are their supporters," alleged Chhattisgarh Congress state president Bhupesh Baghel.

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