Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi is the latest to fall to dengue, with nearly 150 students down with the disease since monsoon set in.
The 11 hostels of IIT-Delhi houses 6,000 students. The campus has a total population of 16,000, including the faculty and other staff members. The institute authorities claim there have not been more than 50 dengue positive cases so far.
“There’s no denying that we have had dengue cases, but 50 cases in a population of 16,000 is not alarming,” said Dr Surendra Prasad, Director, IIT Delhi.
The students and faculty members, however, differ. "I share a room with two other students, and all of us are down with dengue. In my hostel alone you'll find about 25-30 dengue cases, and the entire campus will easily have more than 100 students suffering from dengue," said a student of first year mechanical engineering, staying in Kumaon hostel, who is recuperating at a relatives place in south Delhi. The students and faculty members refused to be identified, as they feared action from the authorities.
A senior faculty member in the department of computer science also claimed a lot of cases went unreported. "Not all come to IIT hospital as it's a small set-up and not equipped to handle huge numbers. I personally know 10 people in my neighbourhood who went to a private lab and tested positive. Three of my own family members are down with dengue," said the professor, who himself has been on leave from work for more than two weeks due to dengue.
"The hostel windows provide easy access to mosquitoes as they don't have wire meshes. I haven't seen any fumigation worker or even someone spraying larvicide in the water collected around," said a third year student of mechanical engineering staying in Zanskar hostel, who knew of eight hostel students suffering from dengue.
Apart from the construction work being carried out on the campus, the institute authorities also blame neighbouring villages for mosquito breeding. "Though we are doing our best, the rains and our neighbouring village have hampered preventive measures," said Rakesh Kumar, Registrar, IIT-Delhi.
As a result students are losing precious study hours. "I missed my minor exams and now will have to take it at the end of the semester, which means double the syllabus. This is enough loss to affect our grades," said a first year student of bio-chemistry, who had to be hospitalised in AIIMS.