As 21-year-old Deepak approaches the stairs going to the first floor, where his family stays, he points to an awareness poster at the entrance of their shop on the ground floor. The poster talks about “good habits” that prevent diseases. “My brother believed in such good habits. He wanted to spread it to others. Look at the poster, it talks about how one has to use a dustbin or wash their hands. This poster lies right in front of an open drain, where sewage is overflowing. He did everything he could, but the government failed him,” said Deepak.
On Sunday, Deepak lost his elder brother Praveen, who succumbed to malaria — the second death this season.
Adjacent to Ramakrishna Apartment in IP Extension in East Delhi, lie heaps of garbage of solid waste, emanating a foul smell. Opposite the apartments, are three narrow lanes of Chander Vihar. Walking 50 metres into the third lane, a pungent smell fills the air. This time, however, the smell emanates from the overflow of raw sewage in open drains. The area, which lies in Patparganj, the assembly constituency represented by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, made national headlines when a 30-year-old resident, Praveen, succumbed to malaria.
As fear grips Chander Vihar after Praveen’s death, residents said that as early 9 am in the morning, the area witnessed an “unusual drive”. MCD teams were rushed in to conduct fogging on the streets and inside houses, followed by spraying of insecticides.
The last time, such an operation was undertaken was almost a year ago, the residents said.
The drive did not stop here. A “fever survey” was then conducted where blood samples were collected from persons who have shown symptoms of fever in the last fifteen days. The “fever survey”, residents said, had never been conducted in the area before. “It might be the constituency of the deputy chief minister, but no one cares if fogging took place or not. Nothing has been done by the government about the open drains, which are the actual reason for this mess,” says Suraj, a Chander Vihar resident.
The focal point of the fogging, spraying and fever survey operation was the ayurvedic store run by Praveen Sharma.
Sharma, died of cerebral malaria on Sunday in Safdarjung Hospital. His family said that on 25 August, Praveen, who was running a high fever, was taken to Ahinsadham Bhagvan Mahavir Health Charitable Centre in Madhu Vihar. “Blood tests were conducted and the reports showed that he had tested positive for malaria. Three days later, we admitted him Max Hospital in Patparganj,” Deepak said. Praveen, who was hospitalised till September 2 in Max Hospital, was then shifted to government-run Safdarjung Hospital. The brother alleged that the “family was not informed about Praveen’s critical condition” by the staff at Max Hospital. Max Hospital has denied the family’s allegations.