Mumbaikars feel the bite, as BMC keeps mosquitoes away from netas

While residents of dengue-afflicted areas across Mumbai have been pleading with BMC to deal with the mosquito menace, the Shiv Sena-led civic body has sent workers to fumigate the area around the Thackeray residence, Matoshree, in Bandra for two consecutive nights

While the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is taking care to snuff out mosquitoes from the immediate environs of Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party leaders, citizens have been left to grumble about the ever-multiplying bloodsuckers in their localities, which have not been fumigated despite the rising menace of dengue.

Fumigation work was on outside Matoshree last night, as well as the previous night, when a meeting of Sena MLAs was going on inside. Pics/Atul Kamble
Fumigation work was on outside Matoshree last night, as well as the previous night, when a meeting of Sena MLAs was going on inside. Pics/Atul Kamble

Late on Wednesday night, when the Sena had called a meeting of its MLAs and leaders at Matoshree, the pest control department’s employees were seen fumigating around the Thackeray household.

The spraying was resumed the next day. Even Wankhede stadium’s surroundings were reportedly misted over with disinfectants to ensure a bite-free swearing-in of the chief minister today. The common man, meanwhile, felt the itch of the partiality.

Civic workers fumigate the area around Matoshree, Bandra late on Wednesday while a Sena meeting is underway inside; the work continued on Thursday night
Civic workers fumigate the area around Matoshree, Bandra late on Wednesday while a Sena meeting is underway inside; the work continued on Thursday night

With the sudden outbreak of dengue noticed this month in the city — 6 to 7 patients tested positively for dengue almost every day the BMC has not initiated extra measures to curb the disease, residents complain.

While the corporation said it issued notices to various residential societies against neglecting to check breeding of mosquitoes, citizens believe it has not done anything for them.

Residents of Malvani Gate 5, Malad (West), had complained to the P/North ward office about a particularly noxious sewer and irregular collection of waste leading to proliferation of mosquitoes, but they are still waiting for BMC’s fumigation team.

In the meantime, a resident landed in hospital after contracting dengue. Shahnaz Hussain, said, “The BMC has not been carrying out fumigation drives. The gutters are never cleaned. This time, it was I. But, there are children in my locality. What if they have to suffer through this as well? The authorities should take the issue seriously.”

Neighbourhoods in western and eastern suburbs also saw similar grievances. When the issue was discussed by corporators at the BMC Standing Committee meeting yesterday, the authorities realised that the problem had gripped many areas in Andheri (East) and (West), Ghatkopar, Borivli (West), Dahisar (East) and Kurla among others.

The BMC then sought to lean on short-handedness and dearth of fuel to exempt itself of the blame for not fumigating widely and adequately, and said it would extend the breadth of its decontamination drives in coming days.

When we questioned the insecticide officer Rajan Naringrekar of the pest control department’s working hours, and why the staff was working late on Wednesday night, he said, “Our working hours are from 7 am to 2.00 pm.

But, if there is any complaint or a specific demand from the elected representatives, we usually try and provide them with fumigation.” He added, “But, more than fumigation, it is important that breeding of mosquitoes is brought completely under control, and that can be done only by citizens’ efforts.”

BMC speak
Dr Suhasini Nagda, director of Medical Health at BMC, told this paper, “Recently, routine activities took a backseat because of staff shortage. There were issues with procuring diesel, but we have sorted that and started routine work.

We have asked residential societies to keep their surroundings clean and not store water for a long time. We conduct inspections and issue notices to societies where breeding spots are found. If the breeding persists, we will complain to the police against the societies not obeying BMC’s orders and endangering people’s lives.”

She continued, “We will also carry out a special public awareness drive, as there was a dengue outbreak in the city, just like we did to curtail malaria. We would put up posters on public vehicles so more and more people know about it.”

Popular breeding nooks in houses
Feng shui plants, money plants, defreeze trays in refrigerators, air-conditioner trays, coconuts kept in vessels for planting, stagnant, unchanged water in drums and tanks

Rishi Kapoor suffering from Dengue and Malaria
Actor Rishi Kapoor is currently being treated for dengue and malaria at Lilavati Hospital. The larvae of Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that can spread dengue among other ailments, were found around a plant in his house.

Rishi Kapoor
Rishi Kapoor

BMC’s insecticide officer Rajan Naringrekar said, “We found out about that 15 days back that the breeding was taking place inside Rishi Kapoor’s house on a tray used for keeping small feng shui-type plants. After we informed them about it, they immediately got it replaced.

Usually, the incubation period of a mosquito causing dengue is 3 to 14 days, and we suspect he might have contracted it because the breeding happened in their house. Today, we conducted an inspection and found everything to be clean. There was no problem. We carried out fumigation and will do it again tomorrow.”

Voices

Sarita Rebello Andheri (East)
The BMC hasn’t done fumigation in our area for nearly three months. It last happened in August. A few of my neighbours have contracted dengue, and this worries me a lot. After the rains stopped, the fumigation halted as well.

Habib Qureshi, resident of Malvani, Malad
I complained to the P/North ward office (Malad) and tried contacting the pest control officer who is supposed to check the fumigation, but nothing has been done for over two months. There is a newborn at my place. But, the BMC is just not bothered. It is busy pleasing the politicians.

Devendra Amberkar, Congress oppn leader in BMC who resides in Andheri (West)
The menace of mosquitoes is increasing every day, and the people of our locality keep complaining about inaction. The administration has very easily forgotten the routine chores. There were many dengue cases reported from my area and the situation continues, but nothing is being done. I took up the issue in the civic Standing Committee meeting, hoping to improve the situation.

- Bharti Dubey, Chetna Yerunkar

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