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From THE STATESMAN (INDIA)

October 28, 1999

HEADLINE:

Malaria thrives on CMC negligence

BYLINE:

CALCUTTA, Oct 28 - Calcuttans seem to be stuck with the malaria menace, thanks to slipshod work by civic officials.

The municipality's vigilance and penalising mechanism is so poor that larvae were found in several houses which had already been fined last year.

And stumbling upon this fact was none other than the Mayor, Mr Prasanta Chatterjee, who was leading an anti-malarial team in Sonagachi Lane, Durgacharan Mitra Street and Abinash Kabiraj Lane today.

Larvae was found breeding in water accumulated in narrow garbage-laden lanes squeezed in between the houses. The CMC is, however, not to blame. After all, it is the residents who have the habit of throwing garbage on the streets, say officials.

Larvae was also found in unauthorised water tanks, buckets and large drums in several houses. But, the residents were let off with just a warning. However, water connection would be severed if larvae was found again on their premises, a senior officer said.

Cases of ordinary and malignant [Webmaster's Note: - "malignant" malaria = _Plasmodium falciparum_. ] malaria have shot up since July. More than 5,000 cases of malignant malaria were reported last month. Six persons have died in malaria this month.

Officials admit the anti-malaria campaign lacks uniformity. The chief medical and health officer, Dr Sujit Ghosh, said corporation workers are too thinly spread to check houses at regular intervals. Equipment, too, is not enough.

Overhead and underground tanks are checked only after a malaria death is reported from a house. Corporation workers get busy with their fogging machines after one of the residents visit the local lab to get his blood tested.

In Kalighat, brick tanks in highrises under construction is a breeding ground for larvae. Dr Ghosh said a notice had been sent to city builders in February last year, requesting them to keep an eye on the tanks.

Fines, too, have been slapped on builders for their lapses, but it is clearly not much of a deterrent. For, there has been an increase in the number of malaria cases near construction sites.

Officials, however, claimed that mosquito repellents have been sprayed and water tanks checked in several houses in the area today. Strangely, residents did not agree.

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