Awareness programme for dengue should be aggressive: HC

New Delhi: The aggression shown in the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan campaign by the Centre would have yielded better results if it was also shown in spreading awareness about dengue and chikungunya, the Delhi High Court said today.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Pratibha M Singh pulled up the central government, Delhi government and the civic bodies here over their failure to issue advertisements highlighting the preventive steps to check vector-borne diseases in the city.

It ticked off the Centre over its status report that they have taken steps to prevent such diseases in all part of the country, saying “how is Delhi concerned with what the government has done in Port Blair, Himachal or Kerala”.

“We are concerned about the impact on the citizens of Delhi who have already witnessed cases of dengue and chikungunya despite the fact that the rainy season is yet to arrive,” the bench said.

“Had the central government shown the kind of aggression they showed in the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, it would have yielded a better result in curbing disease like dengue and chikungunya,” it said.

“You have to move one step forward … You being the central government should have been the leader,” it said, adding that the authorities have not even done mapping of the areas where these diseases occurred last year.

“At the ground level, they have not taken any preventive steps, including fumigation and issuing of advertisements to inform the public, to curb the spread of vector-borne diseases like dengue and chikungunya,” the court said.

All the authorities should at least launch a campaign through the media to make people aware of the pros and cons of the diseases, the bench said, while also advising the governments to use the services of celebrities or the victims of dengue and chikungunya for advertisements like they do for other dangerous diseases.

“We will be extremely pained if there is loss of life again this year,” the bench said and added that if all the authorities had been doing their job, “we would not have been talking like this about these diseases”.

The court said already 90 cases of chikungunya and 36 cases of dengue have surfaced, as per news reports, and that too, when humidity levels were yet to rise and the monsoon yet to arrive.

It asked the corporations to file a status report containing not only the mapping, but also the preventive steps taken by them and listed the matter for hearing on May 25.

As many as 4,431 cases of dengue were reported till the end of 2016 in Delhi, according to a report of the South Delhi Municipal Corporation which tabulates the data on behalf of all the three municipal corporations in the city.

The bench was hearing two PILs seeking directions to the authorities to take steps to stop the outbreak of these and other diseases in the national capital.

Of the two petitions before the court, one has been filed by law student Gauri Grover who had sought lodging of FIR against directors of hospitals which had denied treatment to a seven-year-old boy who died of dengue and whose parents subsequently committed suicide in September 2015.

She had alleged that the boy had died due to the callous attitude of the hospitals.

The second PIL, filed by advocate Arpit Bhargava, has accused the AAP government and municipal corporations of not acting vigilantly and responsibly to control dengue and chikungunya outbreaks.