Dengue outbreak has exposed MCD’s ill-preparedness: residents

New Delhi: With the national capital witnessing a spurt in dengue cases, the role of civic bodies is being questioned by residents who feel the outbreak of the vector-borne disease has exposed the “ill-preparedness” of the MCD in dealing with the menace.

The total number of dengue cases in Delhi has crossed the 2,000-mark with September alone posting over 1,200 cases. The North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) till September 12 reported 776 cases, the highest among the three civic bodies. South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) has registered nearly 500 cases in the same period while over 150 cases have come up in east Delhi. A string of dengue casualties, including few children, in the last few days have been reported from the areas under SDMC jurisdiction, like Lajpat Nagar, Sangam Vihar, Srinivaspuri and Lado Sarai.

“Well, is the MCD serious about it? They hardly send anyone to fumigate the area. And, this year, with cases
reaching alarming proportions, they are still taking things lightly,” said 80-year-old J C Bakshi, who lives in Lajpat Nagar. Monika Bahl, a resident of Lajpat Nagar died on Tuesday at Moolchand Hospital due to dengue shock syndrome leading to multi-organ failure. Gopal Jha, a resident of Ber Serai in south Delhi, who contracted the disease earlier this season, says, “Dengue has hit the area badly. Many people are down with fever, dengue or otherwise. Fumigation has been done only once or twice.”

Many Delhi residents believe that some of these deaths were “preventable”, had it not been for the “ill- preparedness” of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) in dealing with dengue outbreak situation.
“I can tell you MCD is a total failure in dealing with this. So, is the Delhi government and the Centre in dealing with this menace which has claimed so many lives, many of which could have been saved,” claimed Prakash K Ray, a resident of Kishangarh area in south Delhi. Rohan Desai, a resident of Kalkaji in south Delhi, alleged that not enough is being done by the municipal corporations, even though the situation “seems to be going out of hand”.

“Some of these dengue deaths were preventable. There was fumigation in my area last week, but this week I haven’t seen it happening. And, even if it has been done, MCD needs to step up its efforts. What they are doing is not enough,” he said. The three corporations — NDMC, SDMC and EDMC — post the trifurcation of the erstwhile unified MCD, undertake their own dengue-prevention measures, but SDMC serves as a nodal agency to tabulate the data related to the deadly disease.

Dengue is caused by the bite of aedes agypti mosquito and breeds in clear water, like puddles and stagnated water in streets and inside water coolers. Fumigation or spraying of chemicals inhibits the breeding of mosquitoes, and is the primary job of the municipal bodies. Besides, south Delhi, residents in northern and eastern parts of the city have also complained that not enough fumigation is being done by the civic bodies.

“This dengue outbreak and its magnitude was expected, after the 2010 mayhem, during which over 6,000 cases were reported. Despite that, you see the MCD is still ill-prepared. And, this year’s outbreak has exposed its failures,” Ray said. In 2010, the city saw a massive outbreak of the vector-borne disease, and eight official deaths and at least 6,259 cases were recorded. The year saw huge spurt in the cases due to construction activities happening as the Commonwealth Games were being hosted in the city.

While till September 12 this year, 1,872 cases were recorded, during the same period in 2010, 1933 cases were registered. All three municipal corporations also have hospitals under their jurisdiction, and are also groaning for more space, as dengue patients have crowded the wards, prompting civic authorities to increase the number of beds.

Being, the worst outbreak of dengue in last five years, several people are living under stress, as news of death are hitting headlines on a daily-basis. Under fire from people in the wake of the menace, the civic bodies are now claiming to “intensify” their prevention drives, including carrying out of fumigation, dengue breeding checking and issuing of challans to household and institutions, if mosquito-breeding is found in their premises.

“We have stepped up fumigation in many parts of the city, increased the number of dengue breeding checkers and field workers. We are trying to check any further spread of the disease,” South Delhi Mayor Subhash Arya said. A senior official of SDMC said, “A 24X7 dengue helpline has been launched and additional manpower has also been employed to fight the disease.” An NDMC official also claimed that “fumigation” is being done in its areas, and challans are being issued if mosquito- breeding is found in premises of households or institutions.

Notwithstanding the MCD’s claims, people, in general seem unhappy with the response of the corporations to the disease. The outbreak of the disease has also triggered a political war of words between AAP-led Delhi government and BJP-ruled municipal corporations, with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal holding the MCD responsible for the dengue crisis.

The three civic bodies have also claimed that 1,75,051 houses have been found positive for mosquito-breeding while 15,724 prosecutions have been launched this year, as part of their drives against the vector-borne disease. According to North Delhi Mayor Ravinder Gupta, NDMC has about 1500 dengue-breeding checkers, 1000-strong staff for carrying out fumigation and 300 employees to monitor the drive, while SDMC said it has increased its corresponding manpower strength from 1,700 to 2,400.

The NDMC has also said that the Mayor Helpline, hitherto restricted to sanitation and corruption-related issues only, can now be used for lodging dengue-related complaints. And, as the city battles the deadly menace, the measures undertaken by the corporations lately, have apparently “failed to inspire confidence” among people.

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