PMC tank is a health hazard

While the Pune Municipal Corporation is issuing notices to citizens for taking inadequate measures to prevent the spread of dengue, mid-day discovered that the civic body’s own water tank at Sinhagad is rife with breeding Aedes aegypti mosquitoes

With the number of dengue cases in the city increasing every day, Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) officials have started issuing notices and registering cases against citizens who are not taking adequate measures to prevent the breeding of the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that carry the dengue virus.

Tank
Contaminated water enters through the broken lid of the tank opening. (Left) Breeding Aedes aegypti mosquitoes can be spotted in the stagnant pools of water on the tank

Ironically, the civic body’s water supply department is guilty of the same negligence, as mid-day discovered during a visit to the water tank at Sinhagad Road. Accompanied by Assistant Medical Officer of Health (PMC), Dr Shyam Satpute, and his team, on Saturday this reporter uncovered the big health hazard posed by the dilapidated water tank.

Health officials spray insecticides at Gopal Society in Anand Nagar to prevent breeding of dengue mosquitoes.
Health officials spray insecticides at Gopal Society in Anand Nagar to prevent breeding of dengue mosquitoes.

Breeding ground
Stagnant water had pooled in several spots on top of the underground water storage tank, where it was quite easy to spot breeding mosquitoes. Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that serves as the carrier of the dengue virus, is known to breed in stagnant water.

Corporator Manjusha Nagpure points out stagnant and contaminated water accumulating over the water tank at Sinhagad Road.
Corporator Manjusha Nagpure points out stagnant and contaminated water accumulating over the water tank at Sinhagad Road. Pics/ Shashank Sane

“Stagnant water over the tank slab has resulted in dengue mosquito breeding spots,” said Corporator Manjusha Nagpure, who oversees the area in which the tank is located.

She added, “The PMC should deploy additional manpower to clear the accumulated water, and action should be taken against the chief of water supply department.”

As there is no vaccine available for dengue commercially, the only method to prevent the disease is to limit breeding areas for the mosquito and eradicate it. With the city reeling under a considerable outbreak of the disease, that is precisely what the PMC health department has been attempting.

Last week, 213 people were tested positive for the disease in the city. On Saturday alone, 32 new cases were reported from different hospitals. Since January, dengue has struck 2,099 citizens.

Health officials are now conducting inspections at residences, as well as commercial properties, to find and eliminate mosquito breeding grounds.

The department has issued citizens with notices, and even registered cases against them and fined them for inadequate prevention measures.

This makes the condition at the Sinhagad Road water tank inexcusable, and begs the question: who is going to take action against the PMC?

PMC’s carelessness
Remains of dead animals and empty beer bottles also littered the area, indicating sheer neglect and carelessness on the water supply department’s part.

Built about 40 years ago, the tank is now falling to pieces, and locals fear that the top slab could collapse any time.

Contaminated water could be seen entering through cracks in the top slab, and through the broken lid covering an opening to the reservoir. The 3.1-lakh litre tank provides drinking water to Deccan and the Peth sections in the heart of the city.

Picking on citizens

Health officials conducted inspections in residential areas like Anand Nagar, which is not too far from the Sinhagad Road water tank. They found several mosquito breeding spots.

Dr Chitra Khare was slapped with a Rs1,000 fine.
Dr Chitra Khare was slapped with a Rs 1,000 fine. Pic/Shashank Sane

Even educated citizens were unaware of the preventive measures to be taken to avoid the spread of dengue.

Dr Chitra Khare, a resident of Gokul Society, was fined Rs 1,000 for taking inadequate prevention measures, and received a warning from the health department officials.

Dr Khare, on the other hand, alleged that it was just a way for the department to threaten citizens and collect money from them.

Health officials also fined Sandeep Gajare, a hotelier, residing in the same society.

The other side
Acting Chief Medical Officer of PMC, Dr S T Pardeshi, said, “I am unaware about this issue. I will instruct my officials to spray insecticides in that water tank area.”

Asked whether any action would be taken against the water supply department chief, Pardeshi only said, “We will think about it.”

The water supply department head, V G Kulkarni, was unavailable for comment. However, the department’s executive engineer, Nandkumar Jagtap, claimed they have taken safety measures at the tank.

— Namrata Anjana

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