The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s initiative to involve citizens in mosquito control has received a dismal response. Worried about the increasing instances of mosquitoes breeding in Feng Shui plants, petri dishes, defrosting trays and storage drums, BMC’s insecticide department had in May appealed to residents of housing societies to sign up as mosquito breeding detectors. These volunteers were supposed to visit homes that are inaccessible to municipal officials and check for mosquito breeding sites.
Since May, about 20,000 appeals have been distributed by the insecticide department. About 2,500 residents responded to the appeals, and were trained to identify and eliminate breeding sites in homes and building premises. “Unfortunately, none of those who were trained did anything to curb mosquito breeding in their premises,” said R Naringrekar, chief insecticide officer, BMC.
BMC’s pest control officers screen homes only when there is a dengue case reported in that locality. “We had given the residents practical training. They were taken to their own residences to screen for mosquito breeding sites. The civic personnel can screen open areas, but citizens cannot expect us to enter their homes and look for breeding sites in their kitchen,” said Naringrekar.
The civic body asked these citizens to inform the local pest control officers about the work they had accomplished. They were also asked to intimate the officers in case a breeding site was detected in any home. Till date, the municipal officials have received no reports.
At present, 2,300 BMC staffers are surveying open areas, buildings and offices for breeding sites daily. This is an insufficient number, given the size of the city and the huge numbers of buildings and slums. Since January this year, the pest control officers have detected breeding sites in 8,893 places. In September alone, 3,270 breeding sites were detected in the city; of these, 86% were in housing societies.