In one corner of Gautam Buddha Nagar district’s Sarfabad village, heaps of garbage engulf almost half of a barely-used lane. This spot is less than 200 metres away from the residence of 70-year-old Bhauti, who died on August 18, two days after she complained of fever and exhaustion.
Hers was among the 10 deaths reported from Sarfabad village between August 11 and 24. All the patients had complained of similar symptoms.
The district administration has instituted an inquiry into the incident, ordering an audit of these deaths and their causes. But residents of the village maintain that lack of hygiene and fogging in the area had led to the deaths.
“Hardly four people come here to collect the garbage. Even their visits are not regular. It’s the season when diseases such as malaria, dengue and chikungunya are on the rise… but fogging to prevent these diseases has not taken place,” says Jitendra Yadav, whose 60-year-old uncle Brahmpal died of similar symptoms on August 24.
Brahmpal, who was suffering from fever since August 20, had also complained of stomach ache. He was later shifted to a local hospital.
The district administration has maintained that Brahmpal died of pancreatitis.
In Sarfabad, open drains flank the narrow lanes, but this doesn’t seem to bother local hawkers, who have set up shops along these sewers. After rains lashed the area over the last few weeks, the drains started to overflow and the garbage piled up, say locals.
On Thursday evening, following a meeting with local authorities, the district administration issued directives to clean the drains, remove garbage and carry out fogging in parts of the district.
“Fogging and spraying of anti-larva medicine will be undertaken on war footing. Large garbage dumps are to be cleaned twice daily… ponds and drains will also be cleaned. Orders have been issued to the authorities concerned,” said N P Singh, district magistrate, Gautam Buddha Nagar.
To deal with mosquito-borne diseases and other non-specific cases of viral illnesses, the administration has also issued advisories to schools.
“The district administration has directed the cleaning and spraying of anti-larva medicine in areas surrounding all government and private schools within the next 24 hours. The chief medical officer has been directed to issue an advisory, with steps to prevent the occurrence of such diseases, to all school principals so that they can inform their students,” added Singh.