Malaria Continues to Sting City
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31 March 2010
By Julie Mariappan
In spite of the Chennai Corporation’s claim that it was making “best efforts” to contain the mosquito menace, 1,015 people have tested positive for malaria in the last two months in the city hospitals, government and private.
Corporation records show thickly–populated areas like Tondiarpet, Basin Bridge and Pulianthope in north Chennai and Ice House in the south have recorded the maximum number of malaria cases during the months of January and February.
In Sowcarpet, 28 patients tested positive in February, while Jeeva Nagar in Korukkupet recorded 14 cases, followed by Adikesavapuram in Ice House (13) and Edapalayam near central railway station (12).
The season is apparently not conducive for breeding of mosquitoes, but complaints are pouring in from residential areas close to waterways. Radhakrishnapuram near the upscale Greenways Road in south Chennai has been waging a war against mosquitoes. The residents, located closely to Buckingham Canal, say that almost all houses used more than one repellent, but they are found to be ineffective.
“It is a thickly–populated slum. Each household spends a large sum towards buying repellents,” says K S Selvaganesh, a resident. The locals alleged that the corporation’s fogging operation was only a reprieve and not a long–standing solution. In the absence of proper mechanism to check Neel Metal Fanalca’s conservancy operations, solid waste from this colony ends in the canal. Also sewage is let out from 1,000–odd households into the water body.
The residents of Jeeva Nagar, New Shastri Nagar, Kamaraj Nagar and Jeeva Nagar in Korukkupet in north Chennai have a similar tale. Says Ibrahim, a resident of Jeeva Nagar: “Our locality is close to Cooum. Though we see corporation staff coming in a vehicle mounted with a fogging machine, they never visit interior areas, saying the roads are narrow.”
Though the civic body claims to be using larvicides recommended by the World Health Organisation, residents complain that the chemicals are of no use. V Anand of Jafferkhanpet, close to the MGR Nagar canal, says relief is provided only on the day of the fogging. “If fogging happens on a daily basis, the problem might be solved,” he says.
Activists say that the corporation helpline was not extending adequate support to contain the mosquito menace. “I am only receiving messages which alert me about the status of my complaint. No one has turned up till date to fog or spray,” says Prabhu of Ayyavu Street in Aminjikarai.
The city has about 110 km of waterways and 900 km of storm water drains, which are breeding grounds for mosquitoes. “With 700–odd malaria staff at its disposal, we are carrying out fogging and are spraying larvicides on a large scale. But encroachments and lack of cooperation from the public in keeping the waterways clean has hampered anti–mosquito operations,” corporation sources said.