Mumbai civic body will not use drones to disinfect coronavirus containment zones

Currently, there are more than 720 containment zones across Mumbai, with the maximum ones at Worli, Prabhadevi, Byculla, Girgaum, Mazagaon and Tardeo.
Last week a citizen had suggested the BMC to use drones to disinfect those containment zones which were inaccessible, said BMC insecticide officer Rajan Naringrekar.(HT file photo)
Last week a citizen had suggested the BMC to use drones to disinfect those containment zones which were inaccessible, said BMC insecticide officer Rajan Naringrekar.(HT file photo)
Updated on Apr 21, 2020 10:24 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, Mumbai | By Badri Chatterjee

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has said that it will not use drones to disinfect containment zones in the city and has termed the process “useless.”

Last week a citizen had suggested the BMC to use drones to disinfect those containment zones which were inaccessible, said BMC insecticide officer Rajan Naringrekar.

“After a discussion with experts on the feasibility, we realised that drones are ineffective in cleansing major touch points which have been identified across the containment clusters,” said Naringrekar.

Currently, there are more than 720 containment zones across Mumbai, with the maximum ones at Worli, Prabhadevi, Byculla, Girgaum, Mazagaon and Tardeo.

The insecticide department had identified five main touch points that citizens in containment zones need to be aware about to control community transmission. These touch points include common toilets, stair handles or railings connecting two or three-storied structures, parapets connecting one settlement to the other, sitting areas such as concrete platforms outside slum structures and door handles.

“Drones are not in a position to treat these touch points. It will release the disinfectant on rooftops or surfaces where the virus is not present, rendering the activity completely useless,” said Naringrekar.

These unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are currently being used by the Mumbai Police to monitor the movement of citizens during the lockdown and make announcements in densely-populated containment areas where traversing by foot is difficult, he added. “Also, large network of cables in these zones will hinder spraying disinfectants,” said Naringrekar.

Meanwhile, the confusion over the usage of disinfection chambers continues to prevail among state bodies despite the Centre’s advisory against its usage.

While spraying disinfectants has been recommended for cleaning purposes, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare issued an advisory on Saturday that spraying disinfectants or using tunnels on individuals or groups “was not recommended under any circumstances as it is physically and psychologically harmful”.

“Even if a person is potentially exposed with the Covid-19 virus, spraying the external part of the body does not kill the virus that has entered the body. Also there is no scientific evidence to suggest that they are effective even in disinfecting the outer clothing,” the advisory read.

But in Maharashtra, disinfection tunnels have been installed across the state and the government plans to install more such chambers across market places, government buildings and railways stations.

“This is an unscientific process, which can lead to severe skin problems as well health effects, if the sodium hypochlorite solution in the tunnel is inhaled in large quantity. It is best to be avoided,” said Dr Jerryl Banait, dermatologist and Supreme Court petitioner in Covid-19 matters.

However, the BMC has clarified that it will not be using disinfection chambers. Naringrekar said BMC will continue not to use disinfection chambers. “It gives a false impression that a person is cleaned and they will neglect the use of sanitisers or hand washing,” he said.

Union health ministry’s advisory

•Spraying chemical disinfectants on individuals or groups is not recommended under any circumstances as it is physically and psychologically harmful

•Even if a person is potentially exposed with the Covid-19 virus, spraying on the external part of the body does not kill the virus that has entered the body

•Spraying chlorine on individuals can lead to irritation of eyes and skin and potentially gastrointestinal effects such as nausea and vomiting

•Inhalation of sodium hypochlorite can lead to irritation of mucous membranes to the nose, throat and respiratory tract

•Use of such measures may lead to a false sense of disinfection, safety and hamper public observance to hand washing and social distancing measures

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Friday, October 22, 2021