Mounds of garbage clog streets of New Town and Salt Lake, painting a picture of civic apathy at a time dengue cases are on the rise in parts the city.
Stagnant water pools as well as mounds of garbage grow unchecked in these places despite repeated pleas by the government and doctors to keep neighbourhoods clean to fight dengue.
The fear of dengue-causing mosquitoes entering homes, as well as the rotten stench from these mini mountains of garbage, is forcing residents to keep their doors and windows shut at all times.
New Town City Square — the field near Central Mall in New Town’s Action Area I that hosted New Town’s first community Durga Puja, New Town Sarbojanin — looks like a shadow of its former green self as the entire field is littered with pieces of cloth, plastic cups, glasses and Styrofoam trays, among other items.
A visit to the ground on Thursday afternoon revealed that a large portion of the pandal was yet to be dismantled. Corrugated tin sheets, wooden planks and sundry other things lay strewn across the field on Thursday.
Public health experts have repeatedly warned to keep an eye on cleanliness and not let garbage accumulate as these can turn into ideal breeding-sites for mosquitoes. The dengue virus is spread by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which breed in accumulated freshwater.
Every day, around 60 cases of dengue are being reported from New Town and its adjoining areas like Patharghata and Hatgacha, officials from the New Town Kolkata Development Authority (NKDA) and the gram panchayat said.
“We will immediately send teams to remove any garbage strewn in the park and will ask the decorator to dismantle the pandal at the earliest,” NKDA chairman Debashis Sen told The Telegraph on Thursday evening.
According to figures released by the Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) health department, more than 250 cases are being reported from the 14 wards in Salt Lake daily.
Around 500 cases are being recorded every day on an average from the remaining 27 wards of the BMC, which include areas like Baguiati, Kestopur, Ashwininagar and parts of Rajarhat.
“Till date, three dengue deaths have been reported from the BMC area. On average, we are recording more than 750 cases from the 41 wards daily and the number has nearly doubled in the past week,” said Banibrata Banerjee, mayoral council member in charge of the health department of the BMC.
The Telegraph drove around Salt Lake and New Town on Thursday and found a sizeable portion of the road that connects a road along Eastern Drainage Channel with AMRI Hospitals, and the entire pavement along the stretch, had turned into a garbage dumping ground.
Items ranging from Styrofoam plates and trays to used sanitary ware like sinks were spotted at various places along the 12-feet-wide road.
Close to the stretch are a number of residential blocks including KB, KC, IC, IB and IA. A civic health department official said at least 40 cases had been reported from these blocks on Tuesday and Wednesday. The situation was similar near City Centre.
A 20-metre stretch from the City Centre Metro station till Bidhannagar College was littered with garbage. The entire area had flies swarming around, while several dogs and cows were seen rummaging through the garbage for food. Passers-by were seen holding handkerchiefs to their noses.
“The stench from the garbage in front of our house is so overpowering that we keep the windows of our house shut,” said Bikash Choudhury, a resident of EC Block. According to Choudhury, several of his neighbours are down with dengue.
The areas near the CGO Complex looked the dirtiest. More than 35 fresh cases of dengue have been reported from various nearby pockets, including Labony Estate and EC, DB, DA and FD blocks on Tuesday and Wednesday. Several residents of Salt Lake told The Telegraph on Thursday that most of the 150 tonnes of the garbage that the township generates every day is accumulating along the roads.
“At this rate, Salt Lake will soon become another Dhapa. This is happening at a time the authorities, as well as residents, need to focus on hygiene to combat dengue,” said Basudeb Basu, who lives in DB Block, near City Centre.
In Baguiati, where a 14-year-old girl died of dengue on October 19, nearly all the streets leading to the Baguiati fish market had stagnant water at various intervals as well as garbage dumped along them.
Devraj Chakraborty, mayoral council member in charge of solid waste management, said: “Please text me a list of places where you have seen garbage. I will get them cleared in a few days.”
Mayor Krishna Chakraborty said she would ask the mayoral council member to look into the matter.
The situation is similar in Nagerbazar and near Dum Dum railway station. Sanjay Das, member of the chairman-in-council in charge of health of South Dum Dum Municipality, said more than 200 cases of dengue were being reported from the municipal area.
“We will launch a clean-up drive in all wards next week,” he Das.