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Outbreak of dengue finds babus napping

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Outbreak of dengue finds babus napping

Delhi caught in a monsoon disease spiral as tug of war between AAP govt and municipal corporations over funds takes an ugly turn.

Dengue, chikungunya and malaria have started taking Delhi into their deadly grip. And rising cases may soon spell a full-blown health crisis as a fight between the AAP government and the BJP-led municipal corporations means there are not sufficient funds to tackle these vector-borne diseases.

On Friday, South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) members staged a sit-in outside Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's house for funds. SDMC Mayor Sunita Kangra said that the number of cases will spiral further as it rains more, and blamed the Delhi government for not releasing funds.

She expressed fears that the civic body may not be able to control the menace that wreaks havoc on the city every year between July and November.

Kangra said SDMC has no money to buy anti-larval medicines used in fogging drives and disinfecting water coolers.

The Delhi government should have taken a liberal view in releasing funds. It is responsible for the outbreak. SDMC does not have adequate funds to pay salaries to ground staff called Domestic Breeding Checkers (DMCs), she said.

In 2018, 473 cases of malaria, 2,798 of dengue and 559 of chikungunya were reported in Delhi. Until last week this year, the city has recorded 66 cases of malaria, 27 of dengue and 14 of chikungunya. SDMC's Leader of the House, Kamaljeet Sehrawat and Standing Committee Chairperson Bhupender Gupta also blamed the Delhi government for not releasing funds. Former SDMC Mayor Narendra Chawla said that fund shortage has led to a lack of preparation for prevention of vector-borne diseases in Delhi.

It seems that Kejriwal is not concerned for his people. A Delhi government spokesperson countered the allegations and said that Rs 109 crore was released on Wednesday for the three municipal corporations to help them tackle vector-borne diseases. Rs 57.15 crore is for the north body, Rs 28.40 crore for the east and Rs 23.57 crore for the south body, he said. The Delhi government is fully committed to preventing vector-borne diseases and it will not allow funds to become a hindrance in ensuring that residents of Delhi do not suffer, the spokesperson said.

The CM has directed the urban development department to take all necessary steps to ensure proper utilisation of these funds, he said. The civic body members, however, said the funds were not enough. We have demanded Rs 49 crore from the Delhi government but it has allocated Rs 34.60 crore and only Rs 2.15 crore has reached us, Kangra said.

OLD BATTLE

The fight for funds is an old one. The corporations say the Delhi government is not releasing the required funds. The Delhi government, in turn, accuses the corporations of mismanaging their finances. And there are reasons for this.

The corporations administratively report to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) through the Lieutenant-Governor (L-G) chosen by the Centre. But the three civic bodies depend on grants-in-aid from the Delhi government. The Delhi government coordinates with them through directorate of civic bodies. The money that MHA through the Delhi government.

After the erstwhile Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) was trifurcated in 2012, administrative expenses have gone up, while shared revenue is not of much help. The three new entities have been struggling to pay their employees.

The battle is in the Delhi High Court.

HARRIED RESIDENTS

Residents complain that authorities have failed to keep drains unclogged that has triggered a sudden surge in the mosquito population. Experts say Aedes aegypti breed in fresh standing water and transmit dengue and chikungunya.

Domestic Breeding Checkers visit houses only to mechanically mark them. They are not bothered if anyone has a mosquito-breeding water cooler. They don't care even when they see an open drain, said a resident.

CENTRE STEPS IN

On Wednesday, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Dr Harsh Vardhan emphasised on the need of community efforts in the right direction to help in preventing vector-borne diseases. He launched 'Jagrukta Abhiyaan', a three-day public awareness campaign in the Capital.

A total of 286 ward-wise teams have been constituted. They have 20-25 members each from the corporations, the Centre and the Delhi government.

Last year, more than one lakh people got infected with dengue and it claimed over 172 lives across the country.

Among patients here, the mortality rate in dengue cases is 7 to 8%. Nationally, it is less than 2%. Here, it's high because of the serious nature of cases. We are training resident doctors, paramedical staff and nurses on managing dengue cases, said Dr Ashutosh Biswas, professor of internal medicine, AIIMS.

Dengue causes flu-like illness. Symptoms include headache, pain in other body parts, nausea, vomiting, swollen glands and rashes. Death, though rare, is from complications such as haemorrhagic fever and shock syndrome.

Also read: Over 60 malaria cases in Delhi, 27 of dengue

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