Citizens from Mumbai fight against malaria

The delay in dealing with the dreadful disease of malaria and the lack of initiatives by the civic body has led citizens to take some action

On Friday, Moneylife had reported ( on how doctors say after containing the malaria outbreak, the city could witness higher amounts of patients being affected by dengue. This in turn, has led to further questions as to whether civic bodies are ready.

Citizens, frustrated by the lack initiatives from Mumbai's civic body, have started taking initiatives to control the deadly disease themselves. Even opposition political parties like the Congress and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) have been cleaning up the city, thus stealing the limelight from the Sena-BJP controlled Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

"The statutory authority will be as strong as we in the civil society are and we as a civil society do not demand better services by being better ourselves and being conscious ourselves the statutory authority will be limited in their work," said Indrani Malkani of the Malabar Hill Residents Association.

In South Mumbai, residents have started distributing pamphlets to locals, informing them of the ways they could be infected by malaria. The pamphlet contains the "dos" and "don'ts" when it comes to the dreadful disease and dealing with mosquitoes.

While in Mahim and Wadala, cable TV operators have been broadcasting messages on how to curtail mosquito larvae breeding and are also giving out phone numbers of local doctors and clinics. "We have been told to display inputs of the disease on screen and we have put them up," a local cable operator said.

Even doctors have been taking action. The Association of Medical Consultants (AMC) has set up fever Out Patient Department (OPD) at nursing homes. "There are eight wards, which the BMC say are the worst affected, so we are requesting five nursing homes to run a fever OPD in those areas in the afternoon. This is generally not the time for doctors' to provide consultation, but they will do it between 2pm to 4pm for a nominal fee of Rs50 and if necessary with a blood test at 50% of the cost," said Sudhir Nayak, AMC's honorary secretary. There has been a huge shortage of beds in hospitals in the city, thus creating a huge discomfort for patients.

Similarly, pressure to get things done by residents has led political parties to pull up their socks. The MNS has already begun its 23-day campaign where members of its party are sending their cadres along with BMC officials to synthesise areas that are either infected or likely to be infected. MNS Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA), Nitin Sardesai, said, "The municipality provides only one fogging system for a ward, but we realise the need and I have brought two additional fogging systems for my constituency."

MNS will also land up at your door and request you to keep your surroundings clean after an order given by its chief Raj Thackeray when he announced a cleanliness drive to tackle malaria.

After getting inputs from various doctors, residents in Wadala and Matunga went up to its constituency leaders in the Congress to begin the cleaning process. For the past three weeks members from the Congress party have been overseeing the cleaning up of bye-lanes, fumigation of areas and filling up foot holes. Recently, Sanjay Nirupam, Member of Parliament from North Mumbai, took to streets to clean up the city in the wake of growing malaria cases.

But even as citizens are taking up action to keep the dreadful disease at bay, they certainly aren't letting the BMC go that easily. In Marol, Andheri which has been identified as one of the worst affected wards in the city, local resident like Aziz Aamreliwaala have posted a banner outside his house condemning the BMC actions. According to another resident Tina Gonsalves, residing in Marol, says "We have been knocking on the BMC doors, but they are not opening. Just three days back, a young girl expired due to the disease near our locality."

According to Mr Aamreliwaala, the reason for the spread is that ward officers haven't done proper checks. "Ward officers have not done any such kind of inspections. Only when their senior officials visit to observe the place, then only they start cleaning it up."

As per BMC data, in July, 12,000 people tested positive for malaria from the one lakh slides taken in house-to-house surveys. Last year, during the same period, there were 4,380 positive cases. The number of malaria cases in July has not only more than doubled compared to last year, it could very much be the highest number ever recorded in Mumbai.

Malaria spreads through the bite of the female anopheles mosquito. The monsoon and post-monsoon period from June to November is considered the high transmission season for malaria.

(This is the third part of a continuing series on the various health threats (including malaria) facing the city)

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    1 decade ago


    Lukewarm response from employees in PSU sell-offs: Govt

    New Delhi: Forget general investors, public sector undertakings (PSUs) are finding it hard to convince even their own employees to take part in the disinvestment programme, and none of them was able to sell the entire quota reserved for their workforce in public offers since the last fiscal, reports PTI.

    Besides, some PSUs that have remote locations are unable to communicate the public offer message to their employees and face various difficulties like opening demat accounts.

    "What we have found in the seven, eight instances is that whatever was reserved for employees has not been fully subscribed. The best subscription we had was of Rural Electrification Corporation (REC), which went up to 75%. And in some companies it has been as low as 20%-25%," disinvestment secretary Sumit Bose today said today at a SCOPE seminar.

    He further said that in the recent follow-on public offer of Engineers India (EIL), only around 60% of the employee quota got subscribed.

    The government had raised Rs25,000 crore through stake sale in Oil India, NMDC, REC and NTPC during 2009-10, while it aims to raise Rs40,000 crore through disinvestment this fiscal.

    So far, in the current fiscal, divestment in the Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVNL) has fetched the exchequer over Rs1,000 crore and it managed to mop up around another Rs1,000 crore by selling stake in Engineers India.

    In all these public issues, the government has reserved certain percentage for its employees.

    Mr Bose cited some difficulties that have kept employees from participating in the government's disinvestment programme.

    "REC is a very urban type of corporation with limited number of employees. That is its strength and many of them are in headquarters. On the other hand, let us look at NMDC.

    Spread all over in some of the remotest corners of the country, much of it is inaccessible (to) lot of grades of employees," he said.

    Mr Bose added, "To carry the message that these are stocks of your company, you can become owner of the company, is that much more challenging as are all other requirements (like) opening demat accounts."

    On the forthcoming IPO of Coal India, which filed draft prospectus with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) yesterday, Mr Bose said, "You would have been reading in the paper that CIL which has filed draft prospectus yesterday has been making a lot of efforts to open demat accounts across its eight subsidiaries. It is a challenging task.

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    Apple’s “Smart Bike” Could Squash All Other Bike Tech

    Apple is considering a "Smart Bicycle System" that would use iPods or iPhones to track cyclist data and help teams communicate on the raceway. Apple's new system will help bikers' record speed, distance, time and many more things.

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