Over the past few weeks, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has repeatedly delayed fumigation work across the city on account of problems faced in the purchase of diesel for the fogging machines. Fumigation is one of the civic body’s crucial measures to curb mosquito-breeding and related diseases in the city.
The issue was discussed in the standing committee meeting held recently when corporators complained of inaction on the part of the civic body in curbing the rising number of dengue cases in the city. “For about nine days last month, there was no fogging as part of the BMC’s drive to curb mosquito-breeding. It has been a major cause of concern in wards with a majority of slum areas. The changing weather patterns and increasing breeding spots are adding to the menace in areas where sanitation is poor,” said standing committee member and Samajwadi Party leader, Rais Shaikh.
Earlier this year, the BMC shifted from purchasing diesel in bulk to purchasing it at the ward-levels. The change in policy had affected the process of fumigation even before the monsoon had set in. “Purchasing diesel in bulk was resulting in a monetary loss for the civic body. Therefore, we started purchasing it at retail rates at the ward-level,” said Dr Rajan Naringrekar, chief insecticide officer of the civic body. Naringrekar added that the new standard operating procedure only caused a minor delay in some areas.
Civic leaders have pointed that the lack of manpower in the health department, irregular collection of garbage and sewer cleaning, coupled with the inability to use larger fogging machines in the narrow lanes of slum areas and the BMC’s schedule of undertaking fogging only in the mornings have caused further problems. “Many officials were also on election-duty the last month followed by Diwali holidays. The least the civic body can do is not involve officials from such essential services, which then affects the entire city,” said Shiv Sena corporator Dr Anuradha Pednekar.
Dr Suhasini Nagda, director of medical education and major civic hospitals, said, “We did face problems in obtaining diesel in the last few weeks but the problem has now been resolved. The civic body is also ready to take strict action against individuals and housing societies responsible for mosquito-breeding. Apart from this, we are also increasing public awareness.”