July 21: The authorities of Jalpaiguri, Dhupguri and Malbazar municipalities have alleged that the district health department had not made any arrangements to supply bleaching powder and mosquito larvicidal oil to tackle encephalitis in these towns.
Mohan Bose, Sailen Roy and Swapan Saha, the chairmen of Jalpaiguri, Dhupguri and Malbazar municipalities, respectively — all three are run by Trinamul — have trained guns at the Jalpaiguri district health department, mentioning that they have had to buy the larvicidal oil themselves.
“Experts from the School of Tropical Medicine have visited Jalpaiguri last week after cases of suspected encephalitis were reported in north Bengal. They advised us that we should work in consonance with district health officials and remove piggeries and check mosquitoes,” Bose said.
“However, not a single drop of mosquito larvicidal oil or bleaching powder has been supplied to us by the district health department,” he said.
All three civic chiefs said they had bought the disinfectants from markets and were spraying it in their respective wards.
The residents of Jalpaiguri town have also expressed concern over the running of piggeries in some of the wards.
“Many of these piggeries are run by workers of the conservancy department of the municipality. We want the civic body to warn them and remove those piggeries. It is a well-known fact that pigs are carriers and sources of the virus that causes Japanese Encephalitis,” said Joydip Sarkar, a Jalpaiguri resident.
Civic authorities said they would initiate the task of removing the piggeries from tomorrow.
“We are aware of the probable consequences of running such piggeries in the town, particularly when cases of suspected Japanese Encephalitis are on the rise. From tomorrow, we will launch a drive to remove these piggeries and if necessary, seek police help,” said Mahendra Rajvar, the sanitary inspector of Jalpaiguri municipality.
In Siliguri, officials of the municipal corporation said they were initiating a similar drive to remove piggeries.
“Instructions have been passed to all borough offices to spread bleaching powder and spray larvicidal oil in all 47 wards. Our officers have been asked to remove piggeries located in some of the wards,” said S.W. Bhutia, the SMC commissioner.
Around 6pm today, over 10 Left councillors of the SMC gheraoed Bhutia, complaining that efforts to counter encephalitis were not enough.
The gherao was on after 11pm.