New Delhi, May 17: Mosquitoes don't wait for meetings, the Delhi High Court on Tuesday said as it ticked off the Centre, AAP government and the municipal corporations in New Delhi for only holding discussions and not taking any preventive steps to check vector-borne diseases.
A bench of acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar said that the authorities at the ground level have not taken any preventive steps, including fumigation and issuing of advertisements to inform the public, to curb the spread of vector-borne diseases like dengue and chikungunya.
May 16, being the National Dengue Day, no awareness programmes or advertisements were run by the authorities.
The bench said that "the Right to Life under article 19 includes the right to know and people should be informed and awareness created on how to prevent mosquito breeding and the treatments available for dengue and chikungunya, which the court termed as a painful disease.
"We will be extremely pained if there is loss of life," it said and added that if all the authorities had been doing their job, "we would not have been talking like this about these diseases".
Observing that the authorities have been working till date in a haphazard manner without any scientific basis, the bench issued a slew of directions, including geographical mapping of the areas where vector-borne diseases occurred last year and preparing time-schedules for carrying out fumigation, inspections and booking of violations.
The bench said that "geographic mapping and the schedules for the preventive tasks ought to have been prepared much earlier and not after the directions of the court. It asked how the corporations would know where to fumigate if they were not even aware where mosquito breeding was going on."
On being informed that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal were looking into the issue and high-level meetings were taking place, the bench shot back: Mosquitoes do not wait for the meetings.
It said that already 90 cases of chikungunya and 36 cases of dengue have surfaced, as per news reports, and that too, when humidity levels are yet to rise and the monsoon yet to arrive. It asked the corporations to file a status report containing not only the mapping but also the preventive steps taken by them and listed the matter for hearing on May 22.
The court also asked them to file on affidavit how many prosecutions have been commenced by the corporations for violations of the bye-laws to prevent mosquito breeding.
During the hearing, the court said that "under the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, if the corporations' Commissioners do not perform their obligatory functions with regard to taking any measures for preventing and checking the spread of dangerous diseases, they are liable for prosecution"
As many as 4,431 cases of dengue were reported till the end of 2016, according to a report of the South Delhi Municipal Corporation which tabulates the data on behalf of all municipal corporations in the city.
Out of the 89 chikungunya cases, 19 were recorded last month, while 34 were diagnosed in March, 20 cases detected in January and 13 in February. Three cases have been registered this month itself.
Six cases of dengue were reported in January, four in February, 11 in March and as many in April, while four cases were recorded in May.