Even after spending crores on mosquito extermination, there were around 10 Chikungunya and five dengue cases reported in Bangalore earlier last month.
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Dr Usha Vasankar, Director, Heath and family Welfare Department, Bangalore says, "As per the BBMP report submitted to us there are 131 Chikungunya cases and 10 dengue cases in Bangalore as of 31st May 2009."
"It is a routine to swat and shoo mosquitoes every evening," says T R Shastry, a resident of JP Nagar shooing a few mosquitoes buzzing above his head. Shastry’s experience is shared by a lot of Bangaloreans.
In a recent reply to an RTI application filed by MVK Anil Kumar, an RTI activist, it was revealed that the BBMP’s Health Department has spent more than Rs.4 crores for the year 2008-09 on mosquito eradication and anti-larval operations.
Kumar filed an RTI application on 8th May 2009 to find out the total amount spent in this operation for the period of 2005 – 09. He got a reply on 2nd June 2009 for the same. Following is the list of the expenditure:
2005-06: Rs 3,42,18,773
2006-07: Rs 3,80,17,563
2007-08: Rs 4,59,29,855
2008-09: Rs 4,19,30,466
According to the Civic Services Guide, BBMP uses three methods to control mosquito breeding: Chemical, biological and Minor engineering methods. Weekly spraying operation is supposed to be carried out in mosquito breeding areas. Wells, tanks and lakes should be stalked with Gambusia fish. It is a freshwater fish also called mosquito fish. These fish feed on aquatic larval and pupal stages of mosquitoes.
However, most Bangaloreans either dismiss BBMP’s claim or are unaware that the corporation has a mosquito eradication drive.
Anil Kumar who lives in Ashwini layout, Ejipura says that a weekly spraying and fogging is done in his ward but the rest of the wards have not seen this happening any time in the recent past. Devayani Kulkarni who has been living in Koramangala 8th Block for the past two years declines BBMP’s claims and says, "I have never seen any spraying or fogging in this area in the past two years."
Dr. Jayaprakash, BBMP’s Medical Health Officer for Koramangala says, "Spraying and fogging is done daily in Koramangala covering each ward each day (ward 67, 68 and 69 respectively)." He further explains that an insecticide named Temephos is used in spraying and King Fog is used for fogging.
"This is something new to us," says B L G Rao, Co-ordinator of the Jayanagar First Block Organisation of Residents for Clean Environment. Rao has been living in Jayanagar for more than 15 years. He says that people in his area are struggling with the rising number of mosquitoes.
Same is the case in BTM Layout where residents fail to recall the last time they saw any mosquito eradication operations. “We never knew that BBMP undertakes mosquito eradication also,” says A Vidyashankar, President of BTM II Stage Permanent Residents Association. Vidyashankar claims that he has not seen any fogging or spraying in the past one year in BTM.
However, people living in other areas are facing a rise in mosquitoes. T R Shastry, claims that he has never seen any mosquito repellent van in his area in the recent past.
"This is purely misuse of public money," he says.
The health officers in the Jayanagar BBMP ward office claim that weekly fogging is done in JP Nagar and Jayanagar. The officers however, refused to disclose their names.
Dr. Kalpana, BBMP’s Medical Health Officer, Madiwala also refused to disclose anything about the mosquito eradication programme in her area.
People living in RT Nagar, Sarjapura, Shivajinagar and many other areas also have similar stories to tell. A N Vittal, resident of Kammanahalli describes, “Last week, I saw a three-wheeler tempo on the main road. There was a lot of smoke coming from the vehicle. That’s when I realised they were spraying something for mosquitoes. I’ve never seen it before anytime recently.”
"How many things do you complain about? Daily, I make phone calls to complain about garbage, water supply and all. No action is taken for anything", he quips.
L T Gayathri, BBMP’s Chief Health Officer claims that regular mosquito eradication operations are carried out throughout the city. "Fogging is being done once a week in the affected areas because daily fogging could lead to respiratory problems in people," she says. She further adds, "It is not possible to eradicate the mosquito menace. We are doing our best to control the menace and prevent vector-borne diseases".