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Times of India
01 September 2010
By Sharad Vyas
Mumbai, India

Bldrs may be fined 5 L for breeding mosquitoes
Builders who do not follow the BMC directive to check mosquito breeding at their construction sites will soon have to pay a hefty fine with the civic body deciding to crack the whip.

Developers Stung
The decision to fine these developers–in some cases up to Rs 5 lakh–was taken in a meeting by civic officials on Tuesday, following reports that many under–construction sites were still not complying with the BMC order despite being served stopwork notices.

"Issuing notices telling errant builders to stop construction on their sites has not served the purpose. A fine seems to be the only option," said officials.

"We have not taken a final decision as yet but there are recommendations from the building proposal department that fines be imposed on those flouting norms," said additional municipal commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar.

The BMC has so far served stop–work notices on as many as 80 builders whose underconstruction sites have become breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Another 1,700 have been issued ‘warnings’ asking them to take adequate measures. Mumbai has 2,400 odd under–construction sites and the BMC was forced to take action against them after only a handful complied with its order of appointing a pest control officer. "After the orders were issued in April, many failed to remove stagnant water and drain their basements," an official said. Taking a serious view of the situation, the BMC then started carrying out fogging operations on its own. Until then, only 37 builders had taken the initiative of appointing a pest control officer.

The latest decision has, however, angered the builder lobby. Many of them are now threatening to stop supplying the BMC with ML Oil, used in anti–larval treatment, as part of their corporate social responsibility initiative.

Malaria bites city harder this year The Parasite Infected Record Numbers & Now Threatens To Give Way To Dengue
Mumbai: Blame it on the proliferating slums, the unfettered construction work or the daily influx of migrants, but there is no denying that the mosquito menace has been at its peak in Mumbai since July. The malarial parasite was detected during July and August in a record 20,000 people, a threefold increase from the same period last year.

Developers Stung
Worse, the mosquito menace is far from over. Doctors say that malaria could give way to dengue, the other mosquito–borne disease that is characterised by haemorrhagic fever and sudden death. "In the last one week, I have been seeing as many patients of dengue as malaria," said Dr Hemant Thacker, who consults at Jaslok Hospital.

In August this year, every six of 245 people admitted to civic hospitals died due to dengue. The percentage of fatality in dengue cases has many doctors worried. But civic officials remain unperturbed. Manisha Mhaiskar, additional municipal commissioner, said, "We will not relax the aggressive mosquito control programme we have started this year."

The BMC has also started sending out community health volunteers to various houses in slums to treat potable water. "This will prevent larva of dengue–causing mosquitoes which breed in fresh water from growing," said Mhaiskar.

But given BMC’s track record with malaria–55 dead in July–August period alone–the promise sounds feeble. Dr Thacker said, "What a period it has been....Malaria has set a record of sorts this year.

People have been taking in antimalarial medication. The BMC has been distributing free tablets, recommending early diagnosis and distributing mosquito nets. But no one is talking about prevention." Not only were hospitals overflowing with malaria patients in July and August this year, the period also saw the state government calling a team from the Centre for advice on how to control the parasite’s spread. The civic administration followed the central team’s recommendations to the last word–it gave health cards to labourers, carried out aggressive sanitisation of construction sites and supplied nets to people. On Tuesday, Mhaiskar said that malaria is on the decline.

But some doctors are worried about the aggressive treatment pursued by the BMC. "The scary stuff is that we have lived through the season without thinking about the next year," said a doctor, who is worried about people popping cholorquine pills as a preventive dosage. "We have to consider the fact that we may face drug resistance next season."

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