Civic bodies halt outdoor fogging due to pollution, residents unhappy

Updated on Nov 27, 2019 11:37 PM IST
The national capital has been breathing toxic air since (October 10) when AQI plunged to poor zone for the first time after at least two months of relatively good air.
A view of smog and pollution at Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi(Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)
A view of smog and pollution at Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi(Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By

The choking pollution this season has prompted municipal corporations in the city to halt outdoor fogging to kill adult mosquitoes and control the population of the vectors spreading diseases like dengue, chikungunya, and malaria in the city.

The national capital has been breathing toxic air since (October 10) when AQI plunged to poor zone for the first time after at least two months of relatively good air. The pollution levels soared in November when it saw two peak pollution episodes. On November 3, Delhi saw its worst air day since 2016 when the AQI reached 494 in the severe category.

The absence of fogging, however, has left residents unhappy with many complaining that the number of mosquitoes having gone up, despite the breeding season being over.

“I see more of them (mosquitoes) in the houses now, particularly at night,” said Mukund Rawat, a resident of Model Town.

Ajay Shikhawat, who resides in Mahipalpur, added, “A small boy in our colony had fever recently. His parents were suspecting dengue, though he tested negative for it. The municipalities must not stop fogging,” said.

Delhi has so far recorded 1,644 cases of dengue this year till November 23, which is fewer than the 2,406 cases recorded in the same period in 2018, and 4,556 in 2017. The Delhi government had launched a 10-week drive in September to create awareness and to urge people to scrub out vessels containing stagnant water to prevent breeding.

“We stopped fogging at the end of October as the diesel fumes are hazardous for people’s health. Besides, the demand for fogging has come down with winter approaching and the cold weather making it difficult for mosquitoes to survive or the dengue virus to proliferate,” said Dr BK Hazarika, medical health officer, SDMC.

“We are not doing the kind of extensive fogging as we were from July to September. It is only being carried out on special request from councilors (elected political leaders in the civic bodies),” said Dr Pramod Verma, deputy health officer of the North Municipal Corporation of Delhi.

Experts, however, said that outdoor fogging is unnecessary as it does not have much impact on the mosquito population.

“It does not have much impact on the mosquito population, as the chemicals get dispersed in the atmosphere and the mosquitoes can stay hidden indoors. Spraying of insecticide is more effective when it is done indoors and that too in areas from where cases are being reported. Outdoor fogging is just done for psychological satisfaction,” said Dr Rajni Kant, an expert on vector-borne diseases and the director of the Regional Medical Research Centre (RMRC) under the Indian Council of Medical Research in Gorakhpur.

The Aedes Aegypti mosquito that transmits dengue and chikungunya breeds in clean water, usually within homes.

“Outdoor fogging is nothing but pollution. It increases the particulate matter in the environment significantly and doesn’t do much to reduce the mosquito population. It is also very bad for people who are living with chronic respiratory conditions as they start getting symptoms when exposed to the chemicals. The chemicals can also cause irritation in the upper respiratory tract and can lead to nausea, vomiting, and headaches,” said Dr. Jugal Kishore, head of the department of community medicine at Safdarjung hospital.


    Anonna Dutt is a health reporter at Hindustan Times. She reports on Delhi government’s health policies, hospitals in Delhi, and health-related feature stories.

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