Calcutta: The high court on Tuesday called out the state government's affidavit on dengue for not mentioning the exact number of deaths caused by the disease since the current outbreak started.
"In its affidavit, the government has failed to mention how many people died of dengue this year. The government's report states that till October 4, a total of 19 people died in state-run hospitals. But how many people have died since October 4? How many people have died in private hospitals?" acting Chief Justice Jyotirmoy Bhattacharyya asked advocate general Kishore Dutta.
The bench, which also has Justice Arijit Banerjee, asked the advocate general to produce up-to-date statistics at the next hearing on Wednesday.
The bench is hearing a batch of seven petitions filed by individuals and political parties. The state government had filed an affidavit last Thursday in response to an earlier directive from the court.
The affidavit admits that dengue has spread in Bengal but does not provide details that reflect the extent of the outbreak.
Metro had highlighted in a report on October 30 how doctors are allegedly under pressure to use terms like "severe fever with thrombocytopenia", "flavivirus" and "capillary leak syndrome" as substitutes for dengue in prescriptions, hospital discharge summaries and even death certificates.
Advocate Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya, the counsel appearing for first petitioner Rabishankar Chattopadhyay, said in his opening arguments that the contents of the government's affidavit reflected its approach to the outbreak.
"The bench had asked the government to inform it about the number of people who have died of the disease. According to World Health Organisation guidelines, the death toll is to be calculated as a whole and not in government hospitals only. The state's affidavit does not mention the number of deaths in private hospitals."
Appearing for a Jadavpur University researcher, advocate Srijit Bhattacharyya pointed out discrepancies between the statistics submitted by the state government and those of the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme.