Civic authorities in Ranchi have banned the sale of coconuts and begun a cleaning drive to clear the city of its shells after six cases of dengue were detected.
Ranchi Municipal Corporation (RMC) officials said empty coconut shells could lead to the breeding of the aedes aegypti mosquito that carries the dengue virus.
"The sale was banned considering the fact that dengue vector mosquitoes are found on heaps of peeled green coconut shells," said RS Verma, administrator of RMC. "The ban will remain effective for a short period," he said.
The RMC has launched an operation to clear the Jharkhand capital of all shells to prevent an outbreak of the disease that has claimed 52 lives in the country.
According to health authorities, dengue came to Ranchi from Rajasthan after a couple returned home from a holiday.
The ban invited a sharp reaction. "This is the first time that the sale of green coconuts has been banned in Ranchi. I have been selling coconuts for the last 25 years. Green coconut water is drunk by patients suffering from jaundice," said Ramkripal Mahto, a coconut seller of Ranchi.
"I have cancelled the order of green coconuts. I bring the coconut from West Bengal and everyday more than 5,000 green coconuts are sold," added another seller.