For Sunil Kumar, a domestic breeding checker (DBC) employed by the South MCD for 12 years, the day starts around 8 am when he clocks his attendance at the zonal office in Mehrauli. He then visits houses in the area — distributing awareness pamphlets, spraying medicines inside coolers during summers, checking for mosquitogenic breeding conditions in water tanks. The 36-year-old typically inspect 50-60 houses a day. “We put medicines in the water where we feel mosquitoes could breed,” he said.
Like Sunil, around 3,500 DBCs are employed by the North, South and East MCDs whose efforts have contributed to the control of vector-borne diseases in the capital.
A large part of Sunil’s job also involves facing uncooperative residents who shut the door on his face to avoid being challaned and climbing atop tanks even if there are no stairs. “People in some areas say they have no option but to store water as supply is erratic… this is not the part of our job… but we listen patiently,” he said.
South MCD Mayor Anamika Mithilesh said controlling the spread of mosquito-borne diseases has largely been due to the efforts of DBC workers: “We started a campaign called ‘darwaza khatkhato, dengue bhagao’ over a month ago… under which DBC workers visited several households even after the pandemic broke out…”
In 1996, hundreds of workers were recruited on a contract basis by the MCD for checking mosquito breeding. With vector-borne diseases spreading fast in the national capital, they were engaged round the year. This year, DBC workers were also diverted for Covid control exercises such as sanitisation and door-to-door surveys.
Budh Ram, vice-president of the Anti-Malaria Ekta Karamchari Union, said, “At present, we have been engaged in too many activities. In dengue control, we do fogging, put medicines in nallahs to curb mosquito breeding. While on Covid duty, we had to negotiate a lot to enter a house… the nature of the job is such that we too are at risk of getting infected; two DBC workers are in quarantine at present…”
The workers earn around Rs 15,000 per month. Debaband Sharma, a DBC worker employed at Sangam Vihar, said, “Our posts are not sanctioned so we do not get any facilities like medical benefit, gazetted leave or a bonus.”
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