When the Aedes Aegypti announced its presence in the Prime Minister’s home on Wednesday, residents of Delhi — waiting nervously in dusty colonies for civic officials to wipe out the mosquito menace — wondered philosophically: will dengue turn out to be the great leveller? As it turns out, Delhi was naive.
Have no doubt, the powers-that-be were as frantic as the man on the street despite the many security rings around them. And like many other residents, on Thursday, politicians and senior bureaucrats made 131 frenzied calls to the health authorities at the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) requesting them to carry out fogging operations at their homes. But, in their case, the service was swift.
“We were able to attend to 90 calls. People were frantic and wanted us to come over and check their homes for the presence of the Aedes mosquito," said NDMC health officer Col SK Garg. Such was the fear that some insisted that fogging be carried out irrespective of whether mosquitoes were found breeding at their homes, Garg said.
The NDMC attended to calls from the house of Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, Union Power Minister Sushil Shinde, Minister of State for Urban Development Ajay Maken, Comptroller General of Defence Accounts besides senior bureaucrats, senior Defence personnel and politicians, informed Garg.
"The remaining calls would be taken up on Friday. Besides attending to requests, we have chalked out a detailed programme to carry out thermal fogging in all areas in our jurisdiction. For this, the NDMC area has been divided into four zones and nodal officers have been appointed for each zone," said Garg.
But as any citizen will tell you, the alacrity with which the civic body responded to distress calls of politicians has never been in evidence within the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD)'s limits.
"We have been begging MCD officials to carry out fogging in our area, but to no avail. We have made numerous requests at their control room and also a complaint through the area MLA. The lake passing through Deer Park is a mosquito hub, but with the PM's family contracting dengue, now the focus seems to be on VIPs. Why can’t there be a system by which all areas, whether VIP or not, are covered?" asked Pankaj Aggarwal of Safdarjung Enclave.
Vivek Mishra of Palam Vihar had a similar grievance. "We have been requesting the MCD to carry out fogging in our area, but they have not bothered to react. Given that there is so much panic in the city, the MCD should ensure that all complaints are attended to people's satisfaction. The civic agencies should take action after chalking out their priorities," he said.
On Thursday, the NDMC carried out fogging at 130 sites, including North and South Blocks, MP Flats, Khan Market, Talkatora Road, Pandit Pant Marg, Prithvi Raj Road, Golf Links, Aurangzeb Road, Park Street, CRPF Camp, Supreme Court, High Court, South Avenue, Wellington Crescent, Tyag Raj Marg, Rajaji Marg, Dalhousie Road and Pataudi House.