THREE days after the civic body issued a prosecution notice to Bollywood actor Shahid Kapoor after finding mosquito breeding sites in his home, the municipality chose a different action on Monday after it found mosquito breeding sites in five IAS officers’ flats in Yashodhan building, Nariman Point.
The insecticide department of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) conducted an inspection of Yashodhan building after receiving a request from its residents.
In a press release, the BMC said five breeding sites of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which spreads dengue and malaria, were found in the building. These were duly destroyed by the insecticide department officials, said the BMC.
Senior civic officials confirmed that these mosquito breeding sites were found in or just outside the homes of J S Saharia, retired IAS officer and now state election commissioner; AK Jain, retired IAS officer and now state information commissioner; Shamlal Goyal, principal secretary in the revenue department; Ashish Kumar Singh, principal secretary in the Public Works Department, and one more IAS officer’s flat.
Incidentally, Additional Municipal Commissioner I A Kundan, who heads BMC’s health department, also resides in Yashodhan building.
Senior officials from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation said no action, penalty or prosecution would be initiated against the flat owners or the society.
“This inspection was done proactively by the society. They asked us to come and inspect to create awareness among them and take preventive measures. Since the mosquito breeding sites were found during this inspection, we are not issuing the prosecution notice,” said Rajan Narigrekar, insecticide officer.
On Friday, the BMC’s health department served a prosecution notice to actor Shahid Kapoor after mosquito breeding sites were found during an inspection of Pranita building on Juhu Tara Road in Andheri (West). The inspection was carried out amid news of actor Vidya Balan, a resident of the same building, testing positive from dengue.
“This is not the only building where no action is being taken. In many other buildings, we have not issued prosecution notices. If we find mosquito breeding sites in buildings after carrying out an awareness campaign there, then we issue prosecution notices,” Naringrekar said in the BMC’s defence.
Under provisions of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, 1888, the BMC is empowered to file a case in a Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court and impose a fine between Rs 2,000 and Rs 10,000 on offenders for not preventing mosquito breeding in private premises.
Since January 1 this year, BMC has filed 927 cases in different courts against offenders and collected fines amounting to Rs 26.92 lakh.
Last year, the BMC had served notices on actors Anil Kapoor, Juhi Chawla and singer Amit Kishore Ganguli for not taking steps to prevent mosquito breeding on their residential premises.
Ashoke Pandit, a filmmaker and activist, slammed the civic body for not issuing notice to Yashodhan’s residents.
“It seems as though the mosquitoes found in buildings where IAS officers live are not expected to spread dengue. Flat owners and buildings have to be held responsible, like any other citizens, if mosquito breeding sites are found. This kind of discrimination should not be allowed,” said Pandit.
Kundan, when contacted, said the attempt was to spread awareness about prevention of mosquito breeding in buildings. “This is not the only building. We have carried out the inspection in many other buildings and highrises to create more awareness about preventive measures. Our view is that conscious citizens should be aware of the preventive measures needed to be taken to avoid dengue and malaria,” he told The Indian Express.
J S Saharia, former chief secretary and state election commissioner, said the mosquito breeding site was not found inside his flat.
“We have air conditioning outside the flat and we have kept a pot on top of it for birds. Since it rained in the city in the past 2-3 days and we were away, mosquito breeding took place,” Saharia told The Indian Express.
A K Jain did not comment when contacted by The Indian Express.
Ashish Kumar Singh and Goyal were also unavailable for comment, despite repeated calls and messages.