Delhi government acts ahead of monsoon to make city mosquito-free (Lead)

New Delhi, May 13 (IANS) Under attack from various quarters for waking up late to counter vector-borne diseases for the past two years, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia announced on Saturday that the Delhi government has initiated steps much ahead of the rainy season to keep the city "mosquito-free".

Briefing the media on the preparedness for dengue and chikungunya-like diseases, Sisodia said Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had held a meeting with all stakeholders, including commissioners of civic bodies, and a comprehensive plan would soon be drawn up to make Delhi mosquito-free.

"Chief Minister has directed that a comprehensive proposal be made, for which the officials concerned of the central government, Delhi government, civic bodies and NCR will pitch in. We have to find a way to make Delhi mosquito-free," he said.

Sisodia said that the government had taken preventive steps early this year, so that measures were put in place before the onset of monsoon.

The government has already instructed hospitals to use 10 to 20 per cent of the beds for treatment of fever and to be ready for extra fever clinics, according to Sisodia.

"Facility to know the availability of beds online is being ensured and a control room is being set up to help patients," said Sisodia, adding that rates of medicines and tests would be fixed in private hospitals, so that the dengue and chikungunya patients were not charged extra.

According to official data, 4,431 cases of dengue were reported in 2016 while the number of chikungunya cases stood at 9,749. The figures are among the worst in India till now. In 2015, the highest dengue cases were reported - with 15,876 people infected and 60 deaths.

The Delhi High Court, which has been hearing PILs accusing the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government and the three municipal corporations of not acting responsibly towards tackling the mosquito-borne diseases, had also wanted the civic agencies to begin prevention work early this year, so that measures are in place before the monsoon hits the capital.

It had also asked Delhi government and civic agencies to give name of the officers responsible to ensure that no dengue or chikungunya cases occurred this year in the national capital.

The court had also said that a lot of hospitals in Delhi remained under-used and that there was need to increase the number of beds to deal with additional requirement during outbreak of such diseases.

As per South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), at least 80 cases of chikungunya and 30 cases of dengue have already been reported in Delhi in the first four months of this year.

These cases were reported even though the period for vector-borne diseases in Delhi has traditionally been between July and December.



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