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NGT suggests ‘fishy’ way out to prevent mosquitoes in fountains

The NGT ordered steps to prevent mosquito breeding in public fountains. It told municipal officials to put Gambushia fish in fountains as it feeds on mosquito larvae.

delhi Updated: Jul 10, 2017 07:19 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Gambushia fish,NGT,National Green Tribunal
The National Green Tribunal was told that public fountains have become a breeding ground of mosquitoes. The tribunal ordered the municipal authorities to take steps to prevent breeding of mosquitoes by introducing fish that eat mosquito larvae.(Burhaan Kinu/HT Photo)

The National Green Tribunal directed local authorities on Monday to introduce Gambushia fish – a species that feeds on mosquito larvae – in fountains, to prevent them from becoming breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

“Authorities should ensure that fountains should be cleaned and maintained so that they don’t have stagnated water and become breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Concerned authorities should either pour kerosene in the water or introduce gambushia fish,” said a bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar on Monday.

The direction came after some of the commissioners appointed by the green body told the bench that several fountains installed in government offices, hospitals and hotels are poorly maintained and some have become breeding grounds of mosquitoes.

“Water bodies and fountains in several areas including Akshardham Temple and Haryana Bhavan have either become mosquito breeding grounds or have been found to be vulnerable,” the commissioners told the NGT.

These small fish, measuring between 4cm to 7cm in length, are often touted as ‘mosquitofish’ as they feed on mosquito larvae apart from other water organisms such as beetles and mites. They are used as biological controls against mosquitoes. However, the civic body officials later said the step wont yield results as these fish would die when fountains go dry.

Gambushia fish feeds on mosquito larvae and thus helps prevent mosquito breeding.

A senior official of the North Delhi civic body however said: “Gambushia can survive fresh water bodies which are perennial in nature. We have been introducing these fish in water bodies in north Delhi for quite a few years now. They won’t survive in fountains which often dry up in summer. It is not feasible.”

Such measures to control the mosquito menace have also been taken up by other civic bodies and government bodies across India. While the Kolkata Municipal Corporation has been introducing guppy fish for over three decades now, the district health department of Amritsar has introduced Gambushia in ponds and lakes.

“Any organisation — private or government — which maintains fountains would have to take care of it on their own,” said a civic official.

With dengue and chikungunya cases surfacing early this year, the green body also issued a series of directions to civic bodies, DDA, hospitals and Delhi Transport Corporation and Delhi Jal Board control the menace.

Even though the season for these diseases begins from mid-July and generally lasts till November-end, at least 86 cases of chikungunya and 32 cases of dengue have already been reported till April-end this year.

While the Delhi Development Board has been directed to ensure proper fumigation on the terraces in DDA flats which are often inaccessible, the Cantonment Board has been directed to clean the ponds. The transport corporation has been directed to ensure that rain water do not accumulate in the buses which are non operational and are kept in depots. The police have also been directed to clean the seized vehicles which are parked outside police stations so that water doesn’t accumulate in them.

These directions would have to be implemented with immediate effect, the NGT ordered.

Measures to control mosquito breeding

  • Introduce Gambushia fish in fountains as it feeds on mosquito larvae
  • Pour kerosene in fountains
  • Clean choked drains
  • Ensure water doesn’t accumulate in buses which are in depots
  • Fumigation to be undertaken on terraces of DDA flats which are kept locked
  • Clean seized vehicles parked outside police stations; fumigate them
  • Clean and cover wells maintained by DJB

First Published: May 30, 2017 09:44 IST