Short-staffed Delhi civic bodies struggle to tackle mosquito menace as monsoon nears
More than 50% of the sanctioned posts of malaria inspectors and medical officers are unoccupied in the north and east Delhi municipal corporations.delhi Updated: Jun 18, 2017 23:47 IST
Delhi witnessed an early outbreak of dengue and chikungunya this year but the three municipal corporations -- north, east and south -- are having tough time in curbing the mosquito menace.
Reason: 40-50 % of the posts designated for staff to keep a check on mosquito-breeding sites are vacant for more than two years.
More than 50% of the sanctioned posts of malaria inspectors and medical officers are unoccupied in the north and east Delhi municipal corporations.
Out of the total 755 sanctioned posts of anti-malaria officers, senior malaria inspectors and assistant malaria inspectors in the north and east civic bodies, 531 are vacant.
Out of these, the North MCD has 376 of the 528 vacant posts while in the east MCD, 155 of the 227 posts remain unoccupied.
The situation is not any better in the south municipal corporation, the richest of the three bodies, where over 40% of posts of malaria inspectors, assistant malaria inspectors and field workers have not been filled for five years.
Of the sanctioned posts of 1,093 malaria inspections, assistant malaria inspectors and field workers, 471 are still unfilled.
Officials say the poor strength of the regular malaria inspectors and the assistant malaria inspectors is a matter of great concern as they are the ones who keep vigil on spots identified as active mosquito breeding sites.
Official said the north corporation recently sent a requisition to the Delhi Staff Selection Board (DSSB) to fill up the vacancies immediately.
”Considering that only the DSSB is authorised to select staff through examination for Group C employees, we have approached them to complete the process soon,” said an official from the public health department, North MCD.
However, sources said such explanations sound more of an excuse as some of these posts have been lying vacant for five years and more. And due to the staff crunch, the corporations are taking the help of contractual staff, but they are not authorised caretakers of the sites.
“With limited number of workers, inspection of all areas is not possible. To bridge the gap, we have either reappointed retired staff as malaria inspectors or hired others on contract. But these people have no right to issue challans. At some places one malaria officer looks after two places,” said senior official from North MCD.
Unlike North, the south MCD has empowered contractual employees to issue challans round the year. But Abhishek Dutt, Congress councillor from Andrews Ganj, said the accountability of the contractual employees is very limited.
“The salaries of contractual employees are very low and they are not paid for overtime. With limited benefits, they just work to fulfil targets many a time. It is important to monitor their work,” said Dutt.
Meanwhile, of the 1,533 posts of dengue breeding checkers, the north corporation has 1,440 filled while the east corporation has 675 of the total 710 posts filled.
According to Dr. BK Hazarika, municipal health officer, South MCD, “Apart from 1170 DBC workers, 128 malaria inspectors and 986 field workers (responsible for regular fogging in residential, commercial areas) are hired on contract. We are expecting the positions of malaria inspector to be filled by this year.”
Till June 12 this year, 98 cases of chikunguniya and 45 cases of dengue were reported from the city. Last year Chikunguniya had reached epidemic proportions with 7,760 cases being reported while 4,413 dengue cases were reported. In 2015, the city witnessed a massive outbreak of dengue with around 15,867 cases being reported.