| Volunteers of the Naxalbari unit of Paschim Banga Vigyan Mancha use an autorickshaw fitted with speakers near Siliguri on Monday to create awareness about malaria. A Telegraph picture
Malda, Sept. 19: Additional district magistrate (ADM) Bhabani Prasad Barat today went on a seven-day leave following an altercation with Nihar Ghosh, the chairman of the CPM-run Englishbazar Municipality, on the issue of mosquito eradication in the wards.
The argument between the bureaucrat and the people's representative took place at the circuit house here in the presence of the director of health services Prabhakar Chatterjee. The altercation was sparked off by a letter from the ADM alleging that no steps had been taken by the municipality to control the disease in ward 9. The ward, incidentally, has a Trinamul councillor.
Ghosh had alleged that Barat was getting involved in politics. He was, according to the chairman, levelling the charges in a manner similar to the Opposition leaders. Barat on his part said Ghosh's charges were purely imaginary. He told district magistrate Abhijit Chowdhury that he would no longer supervise the work of the health department.
'I have not done anything wrong. A lot of people had complained about the unsatisfactory mosquito-eradication programme of the municipality. Only then did I write to the chairman asking him to take effective measures. I started supervising the health department only after the district magistrate asked me to do so,' Barat said.
On receiving the letter a furious Ghosh took up the matter with CPM MLA from the district Sailen Sarkar.
Chowdhury, meanwhile, said the letter had been posted by mistake and Barat agreed. He said the misunderstanding would soon be cleared.'
A day after being hauled up by Sarkar, the director of health services today gave a clean chit to the officials of his department in the district.
'No death has been reported in the district during the past four days. The number of affected people is also on the wane. I have asked the department to open medical camps where the larva of the disease-bearing mosquitoes has been found,' Chatterjee said. He added that the Indian Medical Association had agreed to run free medical camps in the district.