The Bombay high court on Wednesday directed municipal bodies in Maharashtra to inform it through separate affidavits what steps they had taken to prevent dengue from spreading.
The order was given by a bench headed by chief justice Mohit Shah on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by activist Vishnu Gavali alleging neglect by the authorities in preventing the spread of dengue and seeking declaring the disease as an epidemic.
The civic bodies which have been asked to furnish the information through affidavits by January 22 include municipal corporations of Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Kolhapur, Solapur, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Pune, Pimpri-Chinchward, Dhule, Thane, Ulhasnagar, Vasai-Virar, Mira-Bhayander, Kalyan-Dombivali, Miraj and Nashik.
Claiming that several human lives have been lost in the state due to the disease caused by mosquito-borne virus, the petitioner has sought urgent measures by the authorities to check its spread.
The state government said there was no need to panic as dengue was not contagious and assured that steps were being taken to stop breeding of mosquitoes in stagnant water.
The PIL said in the last five months, several deaths have occurred due to dengue and malaria, creating an "epidemic-like" situation.
It alleged that deaths had occurred due to lapses by the government in providing medical facilities and prayed that the authorities be directed to take immediate preventive steps.
"The state hospitals and semi-government hospitals, including directorate of health should not play with the life of the common man and no one should die for want of medical services and health care facilities," reads the PIL.
It alleged that medical facilities provided at the government hospitals were not adequate and patients often had to approach private hospitals, which charged exorbitant fees most people in rural and even urban areas cannot afford.