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Court asks Centre, Delhi to explain spread

The Delhi High Court on Friday squarely blamed the Centre, the Delhi Government and civic authorities for the outbreak of dengue, reports Harish V Nair.

india Updated: Oct 07, 2006 04:40 IST
Harish V Nair
Harish V Nair

The Delhi High Court on Friday squarely blamed the Centre, the Delhi Government and civic authorities for the outbreak of dengue, saying that such a “grim situation” could have been avoided if timely preventive measures had been taken.

A Division Bench, comprising acting Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Kailash Gambhir, slammed the authorities for completely ignoring the directions of the court given in 1996 to prevent the recurrence of the disease. The outbreak had claimed nearly 500 lives in that year.

“This is a seasonal disease and, therefore, there is no unpredictability. Even then it is as if you are caught unawares. There is total unpreparedness. Preventive measures are launched only when deaths begin to be reported,” the Bench told the counsels appearing for various authorities.

“Every human life is precious. State cannot remain insensitive. We cannot comprehend why effective measures to prevent the spread of the outbreak were not taken. If 3,000 cases and 40 deaths have not rung the alarm bell, then considering the overcrowding in the city, diseases like dengue and chikungunya could become uncontrollable,” the Bench said.

The court has asked the governments and the civic authorities to file their replies in a week explaining reasons for their failure in implementing its 1996 order on dengue and other diseases.

Justice Jain also sought to know where the Rs 1,370 core allotted to fight dengue and similar diseases in the capital had gone. He reminded the civic authorities that they had a duty to protect the lives of the citizens who were paying it taxes.

The court was hearing a petition filed by lawyer Rajeev Awasthi seeking immediate intervention by the court. He said the “authorities were not taking any step to save the lives of the citizens and they had scant regard for court directions”.

Reality Check

With the government “failing” in its duty, the High Court has virtually taken charge of the situation. It directed authorities to file a report within one week on the following:

The efficacy of MCD, NDMC and Centre’s actions and suggestions on making the dengue-control programme meaningful and result-oriented.

Making at least 10 major hospitals in Delhi fully equipped to deal with the disease. This includes installation of sufficient platelet-separation machines and blood banks.

Preparation of the National Dengue Control Programme and the Dengue Control Programme for the NCT with a regular budgetary provision.

Providing necessary information to the public through the national media and pamphlets on the dos and don’ts.

Improving garbage and rubbish collection machinery and ensuring water-storage containers across the city are tightly covered. Cleaning of drains, nallahs and storm water drains across the city.

First Published: Oct 07, 2006 04:40 IST