The malaria outbreak that has caused 23 deaths in Mumbai since June has become more of a political blame game between the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party, who lead the municipal corporation, and the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party-led state government.
The situation has given the Congress a chance to nail the Sena given the civic elections are in 2012.
The Sena, on the other hand, is desperate to save face and has launched a counter-attack by alleging migrants are bringing the illness into the city.
So whose responsibility is it?
“The BMC [Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation],” said State Health Minister Suresh Shetty. “It is the BMC’s responsibility to look after health services and ensure that malaria prevention measures are well implemented. But this time it has gone out of hand so we had to intervene.”
Somewhere in between, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena jumped in to lash out against every body — the Sena, migrants and the government.
The government, meanwhile, grabbed the opportunity to save the day and swung into action.
Over the past week, the directorate of health services brought in a central team to assess the situation and direct the BMC on the next course of action.
It has also involved six district health officers to identify the vulnerable areas and got government hospitals to set up separate booths for tackling malaria cases.
“We have a line of action, which they [the BMC] are following,” Shetty said. “We hope to see things under control soon.”
Despite the BMC’s routine measures such as fogging drains and holding health camps, the outbreak has reached mass proportions.
“This is a result of growing construction sites all over the city. The developers were asked to conduct fogging on their premises but that was not done,” said Additional Municipal Commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar.
Nationalist Congress Party leader and Mumbai’s Guardian Minister Jayant Patil, meanwhile, took pot shots at his colleagues in the government and the BMC over the issue.
“You cannot transform Mumbai into Shanghai solely by building flyovers and roads. You also need basic amenities and hygiene,’’ he told journalists on Thursday. He, however, added that he would not say that the BMC was not doing its job.
The real problem, he said, was the lack of sanitation in a city notorious for dumping 60 per cent of its sewage into the sea untreated. “I don’t think any global city does that. It is time to stop complaining about puddles being the cause of malaria and setting up sewage treatment plants on war footing.’’
Patil said instead of blaming migrants for malaria, the BMC and builders should ensure construction sites are fogged and workers are provided with medical facilities.
Chief Minister Ashok Chavan issued a diktat on Wednesday on this.