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BMC faces flak over erratic fogging sessions

Veteran filmmaker Yash Chopra’s untimely demise after being diagnosed with dengue, certainly indicates that the mosquito menace is not restricted to slum areas alone. In its bid to reduce the number of dengue cases to the barest minimum possible, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) started a fogging campaign four days ago, with focus to not only cover slums, but also areas in close proximity of stagnant water and possible mosquito breeding grounds.

Fogging sessions
All gassed out: In a bid to curb the spread of dengue, officials have increased the number of fogging sessions. Pic/Datta Kumbhar

Though the fogging drive has begun in the JVPD area, residents say that they are still being overrun by swarms of mosquitoes.

The civic body officials claim that they are doing their part effectively, but it is the residents of the posh area who are not cooperating.

With four dengue deaths, including Chopra’s, and 198 cases recorded in the past 20 days, the Insecticide Department of the civic body has increased the number of fogging sessions in various parts of the city including the JVPD area. Since January this year, a total of 702 dengue cases have been reported across the city.

Despite claims by civic body officials that the menace is being tackled effectively, complaints have been pouring in from residents of JVPD area that swarms of mosquitoes can still be seen hovering in the area.

The fogging drives are conducted between 8.30 am and 12 pm on a daily basis, which according to pest control officers in various wards, is the best time to take on the aedes aegypti mosquito (dengue causing mosquito).

A resident of Juhu Vile-Parle scheme, Rekha Nadkarni, said, “According to newspaper reports every other day, there is a rise in the number of dengue cases in the city. The BMC still lacks efficiency to control this menace. We have complained many times to the officials, but fogging is never done on a regular basis and mosquitoes continue to breed in our area.”

Andheri resident Divya Nayyar said, “A person in my neighbourhood was diagnosed with dengue and we made it a point to call the BMC to see that measures were taken to curb the menace in the area. Despite claiming to be well-equipped, the civic body does not seem to be shouldering its responsibility to ensure the needful is done.”

One fogger per ward
The Insecticide Department of the BMC has 2,700 staffers and around 227 fogging machines. One machine has been given to each of the 227 wards in the city. In addition to these, the department has seven vehicle-mounted fogging machines to be used in all seven zones of the city. The BMC spends over Rs1 crore each year on fogging and controlling mosquito breeding in the city.  

The other side
Meanwhile, according to claims made by BMC officials, owners of some bungalows in the posh areas of JVPD in Andheri do not allow the civic body staff to enter the premises. Sources at the K-west ward office claim that the increase of dengue mosquitoes in the city is because of the lack of spreading awareness about precautionary measures. Dr Mangla Gomare, said, “We have started our campaign on a large scale and have taken all the required measures to prevent breeding. The insecticide department has also been notified about the increasing cases and has been instructed to see that fogging is done on a regular basis.” A pest control officer said on condition of anonymity, “The problem occurs when the residents don’t co-operate with us and don’t allow us to enter their bungalows. This is a repeat of what happened at the JVPD area in Andheri, when bungalow owners did not allow our staff to enter.”

Officialspeak
MiD DAY spoke to Dr Arun Bamne, who heads the Insecticide and the Health Department of the BMC.
Q: Was it after Yash Chopra was admitted that the BMC came up with the campaign?
A: No, the plan was on for the past two weeks and we eventually started four days ago.
Q: What measures have been taken to control the dengue mosquito from breeding?
A: We have regularised and increased the number of fogging sessions and also conduct awareness camps.
Q: Do the private hospitals also report the number of dengue cases to BMC?
A: Some do, and some don’t.
Q: Is there any additional manpower that is being used?
A: We have roped in around 1,700 health volunteers to help with this campaign.  

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