As Delhi faces another major outbreak of vector-borne diseases, the performance audit carried out by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) from 2013 to 2015 stated that despite the recurrence of dengue every year, “the institutional mechanisms and actions taken by the departments as well as the municipal corporations were not commensurate with the magnitude of the problem though funds were not a constraint.” ”Stereotypical implementation of anti-mosquito measures without mapping with actual delivery of service undermined the containment of vector-borne diseases,” the report observed in its conclusion.
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The CAG report stated that the MCDs and the NDMC, that largely relied on chemical insecticides to control the mosquito population, did not lay emphasis on environmental modification which is a key element in sustainable vector control.
“While extensive spraying and fogging operations for control of adult mosquitoes and other chemical measures for control of larvae were undertaken by all the municipal corporations at an overall cost of Rs 43.65 crore, the techniques adopted as well as formulations used differed from that recommended in the program guidelines raising questions about their effectiveness,” the report stated. It added, “There was no monitoring of the effectiveness of the work done by domestic breeding checkers. The MCDs incurred an expenditure of Rs 109.43 crore on hiring of these breeding checkers.”
The report mentioned that the NDMC deployed “anti-malaria gangmen” who were on their regular staff as domestic breeding checkers, the MCDs engaged 3,358 “unskilled persons” for the task incurring an expenditure of Rs 109.43 crore.
In the performance audit of the prevention and control of dengue in Delhi from January 2013 to December 2015, the CAG report has observed that the “absence of a policy for chemical use, not coordinating susceptibility tests for insecticides, not carrying out any impact study on techniques applied to control mosquito population and adoption for non-prescript method to control mosquito population indicated absence of informed decision-making process in MCDs and NDMC.”
The report noted that outdoor fogging is recommended in emergency situations or prevention of an incipient epidemic but is it is ineffective in most normal conditions. “MCD and MDMC undertook outdoor fogging during 2013-2015 as a routine exercise at a cost of Rs 95.10 lakh. No study was carried out to ascertain the efficiency of the exercise,” the report stated.
According to the report, the corporations used an insecticide in flowing drains and at a frequency which was not envisaged in the guidelines. “The expenditure incurred was Rs 37.26 crore. In addition, while larvicide valued at Rs 2.09 crore was used in circumstances that could have been better dealt with by simply mandating regular cleaning of containers in which water was liable to collect.”
The report stated that the Delhi Cantonment Board could not use 74 percent of the Rs 1.80 crore allocated for anti-mosquito operations in 2013-14 and 2015-16. “No action plan was prepared for fogging and spraying of areas under its jurisdiction nor was there any record of any work actually done.”
The Delhi government, the CAG report mentioned, spent Rs 10.04 crore on awareness campaigns for dengue prevention in 2013-14 to 2015-16. It, however, faulted the timing of these advertisements between September and November saying that it “defeated the objective of creating awareness of measures to prevent the outbreak.” It noted that the MCDs too started their public awareness campaigns in October every year after the monsoons.
The CAG recommended that the dengue task force meet regularly for mapping dengue-prone areas, an inter-agency coordination mechanism be established, a standard operating procedure may be developed and instituted for epidemiological surveillance along with requisite laboratory facilities for early warning and an impact assessment be undertaken for fogging and spraying exercises by the MCDs.