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Villagers in Rajasthan hold protest under mosquito nets as menace gets worse

Plagued by mosquitoes, people from five villages are staging a protest demanding local authorities to find a long-term solution to their problem.

jaipur Updated: Jul 20, 2017 18:47 IST
Aparnesh Goswami
Aparnesh Goswami
Hindustan Times, Bikaner
Mosquitoes,Mosquito problem,Rajasthan
Villagers huddle under a net as they hold a sit-in protesting the menace of mosquitoes.(HT Photo)

Five villages in Rajasthan’s Hanumangarh district are facing such a serious threat from mosquitoes that villagers have been forced to keep even their cattle under nets even during the day.

“The problem is spread over 4,378 hectares of three tehsils, affecting more than 25,000 families,” said Premraj Jakhar, head of Pilibanga block-level panchayat samiti.

He said people of five villages – Badopal, Manakthedi, Jakhrawali, Bheusari and Daulatawali – are staging a sit-in since July 14 at Chakthakurwala in Badopal to demand permanent solution to the menace of mosquitoes. The sit-in is also under mosquito nets.

The villages are surrounded by vast stretches of stagnant waste water making it breeding ground for mosquitoes and other insects.

The protest has spurred Hanumangarh district collector Prakash Rajpurohit to form a committee to find a scientific solution to the problem.

“Villagers have complained that foul smell, mosquitoes and flies have made their lives difficult. We have formed a committee of experts to find out a permanent remedy,” he told HT.

The panel consisting of agriculture and epidemiology experts along with administrative officers visited the affected areas this week and submitted a report to the district collector. In its report, the panel suggested intensive chemical spray and fogging because the culex mosquitoes which breed in the area serve as vectors of one for deadly diseases of birds, humans and other animals.

Buffaloes are herded under a net to protect them from mosquitoes. (HT Photo)

Hanumangarh chief medical health officer Dr Arun Kumar said there has been no incidence of mosquito-borne diseases in these villages but on the directions of district collector, the health department has put mosquito larvae oil in the stagnant water to curb breeding.

“Culex genus of mosquitoes are vector for Japanese encephalitis and filariasis and avian malaria. These diseases have not been reported in the district,” he said.

In 2014, villagers had staged a protest for 300 days.

“The problem began around 55 years ago when farmers in Sri Ganganagar and Hanumangarh districts began getting irrigation water from the Indira Gandhi Nahar Pariyojana (IGNP). Over the years, excessive irrigation, seepage from canals and poor drainage turned acres of agricultural land into a waterlogged wetland,” said Dropati Meghwal, MLA Pilibanga.

While the Indira Gandhi canal was being constructed, excess flow was discharged into the Badopal area. Over the years, the surplus volume of water gets stagnated in the area for a period of eight to nine months in these areas, said Amarjeet Singh Meharda, Chief Engineer (Water Resources) Hanumangarh.

“Surplus water of the Ghagghar river system is also discharged into these areas and now we are planning a Rs. 298 crore project for this waterlogged area,” he added.

Ironically, the area facing the mosquito threat was intended to be a bird sanctuary. Chief minister Vasundhara Raje announced a bird sanctuary in her 2013-14 budget speech. The village attracts birds, native and migratory, from all over, making it a site for conservation of bird species.

First Published: Jul 20, 2017 18:46 IST