Task force essential to stop dengue outbreak: Delhi HC

The bench, while hearing a plea it initiated regarding the mosquito menace in the city, said that civic bodies cannot use excessive rain as an excuse for their failure to prevent several deaths caused by vector-borne diseases
A bench of justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh came down heavily on the authorities, adding that someone must take responsibility for the rise in cases. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
A bench of justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh came down heavily on the authorities, adding that someone must take responsibility for the rise in cases. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Updated on Dec 25, 2021 03:18 AM IST
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By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Noting that no corrective measures were taken by authorities to prevent the increase in dengue cases, the Delhi high court on Friday directed all civic bodies to constitute a task force headed by their commissioners to take steps to prevent the city from “being infested by mosquitoes”.

A bench of justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh came down heavily on the authorities, adding that someone must take responsibility for the rise in cases.

“On paper, on file, you will pass orders that there should be no breeding. But will the mosquitoes stop breeding if you mention it on the files… But there is nothing on the ground… It is a regular cycle... How can it be that the [cases] more than double in one year? If you are being so proactive if you have taken measures… People of Delhi continue to suffer,” the court said.

The bench, while hearing a plea it initiated regarding the mosquito menace in the city, said that civic bodies cannot use excessive rain as an excuse for their failure to prevent several deaths caused by vector-borne diseases.

“You want to put the entire blame on excessive rain. That means we are then left to the Gods. That is only giving excuses… You need to put the responsibility on some person. If the numbers don’t come down, that person should be liable for contempt action,” the court said.

While expressing its displeasure regarding the “inaction of the authorities”, the court said, “Every year, for the past 20 years, we are suffering the same thing. And nothing seems to happen. Why does the Commissioner not take the moral responsibility and tender his resignation? What prevents him?”

The court asked if the civic bodies required more force on the ground to complete their tasks.

“Maybe you need a larger force to do this checking. You need more people on the ground. There should be proper monitoring of those who are put to tasks. Probably there is no supervision… Probably because the top man is sitting in his air-conditioned office in the months of July or August when this is spreading...,” the court observed.

Expressing its concern on the enormity of the problems due to mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria and chikungunya, the court said that it is high time that the matter is taken up seriously by all the local bodies.

It directed that each of the local bodies, including east, south and north MCDs, Delhi Cantonment Board and New Delhi Municipal Council, set up task forces headed by their commissioners to monitor and control mosquito breeding.

It that members of the task forces must visit the sites, ensuring that actual work is being carried out on the ground and asked the authorities to file a common status report before the next date of hearing on January 14.

During the hearing, the court also said that a stern message should be sent across the city that any violation of bylaws will be dealt with strictly. It directed the Delhi government to initiate the process of amending its bylaws to increase the penalty for people who do not keep their surroundings clean and allow water to stagnate leading to mosquito breeding.

The court noted that at present, there is a paltry fine, up to 500, for this violation. “Looking at the laid back attitude of people, you need more teeth. Your fine amount is only 500,” it said.

Appearing for the North and South MCDs, counsel Divya Prakash Pande told the court that a mobile application was created for logging visits by the MCD employees, which enables the authority to check whether the staff actually visited the site.

The court appointed advocate Rajat Aneja as an amicus curiae to assist it in the mosquito disease-related matters. It said that authorities have become so populist in their approach that they make policies only in populist ways and are scared of doing anything that will lose their votes.

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    Reports from the Delhi High Court and stories on legal developments in the city. Avid mountain lover, cooking and playing with birds 🐦 when not at work

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