The Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) has started writing to Durga Puja organisers asking them to cover the top of bamboo poles used in pandals with sand or soil so that it does not turn into a mosquito-breeding spot following accumulation of water.
Dengue can spread in the neighbourhood if mosquitoes are allowed to breed, the letter mentions.
About 800 fresh dengue cases were reported in the Calcutta municipal area between the first and second weeks of September.
The number of total infections since January stood at 1,900 in the Calcutta municipal area at the end of the first week of September, a CMC official said. It rose to 2,700 at the end of the second week.
The numbers would be much more if fresh infections on the outskirts of the city and the adjoining districts are counted.
The state health department does not issue official figures on the number of dengue infections and deaths, so the actual severity of the outbreak is still under wraps.
Several dengue deaths have been reported in the city.
Civic officials said dengue cases usually rise sharply in September and October.
“Due to accumulation of rainwater in the cut ends of vertically implanted/inserted bamboo poles, the dengue-bearing species Aedes aegypti (mosquito) will breed therein,” reads the letter, which will be sent to the committees.
There are about 2,500 community Durga pujas in Calcutta. “Please seal the cut ends with pieces of cloth,” the letter addressed to the organisers of the pujas reads. The Bengali version of the letter says sand and soil can be used to fill the hole inside the bamboo poles.
At a meeting chaired by the state’s home secretary on Sunday, all municipal bodies and district authorities were asked to lay more stress on reducing sources of mosquito breeding than on spraying of larvicide. A CMC official said larvicide is sprayed only if a vector-control team notices larvae.
CMC officials said that in previous years they had found that items stacked for building puja pandals often turned into mosquito-breeding spots.
“That is why the letter is being sent with an alert that the organisers should keep an eye on the surroundings of the pandals and not allow water to accumulate anywhere in the vicinity,” said a CMC official.
“All Puja committees will get the letter from the respective borough and ward offices,” said a CMC official.
There has been a rise in dengue infections in North 24-Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly, Nadia, Murshidabad, Malda and South 24-Parganas, a statement issued by the state government on Sunday said.