Dengue is Calcutta Mayor Hakim's priority

This year, several dengue-related deaths have been reported in Calcutta and its surrounding areas since the festive season

By Subhankar Chowdhury in Calcutta
  • Published 24.11.18, 2:29 AM
  • Updated 24.11.18, 2:29 AM
  • 2 mins read
Firhad Hakim at an event held to celebrate Guru Nanak Jayanti on Friday. Picture by Gautam Bose

Mayor-designate Firhad “Bobby” Hakim on Friday flagged dengue as his primary challenge and said he would focus on running a year-round campaign to raise public awareness about the disease.

“We have to make people aware and conscious about dengue because the disease keeps changing in nature. Dengue now stings even in winter. To combat it, we need to have an awareness and cleanliness drive throughout the year,” he told Metro.

Hakim’s predecessor, Sovan Chatterjee, had only recently written to the departmental heads, borough chairpersons and councillors of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC), making them directly accountable for vector control.

The move had left a section of public health experts wondering if Chatterjee, who resigned as minister three days ago and stepped down as mayor on Thursday, couldn’t have given the wake-up call before dengue started killing.

In an identical note to the heads of various departments and the chairpersons of all 16 boroughs, Chatterjee said that inter-sectoral meetings focused on vector control must be held in their areas of jurisdiction twice every month. These meetings must involve the respective councillors, he mentioned.

Asked whether he would carry forward the initiative of the previous mayor, Hakim said: “The movement is crucial to tackling dengue. It will have to spread to the municipalities and the panchayat level. I will talk to Atin Ghosh (the deputy mayor designate) on scaling up the awareness drive.”

Ghosh, who was the mayoral council member for health care in Chatterjee’s team, has been at the forefront of the drive against dengue. He was unanimously designated Hakim’s deputy at a meeting of Trinamul councillors in Alipore on Thursday.

Hakim, also minister of urban development and municipal affairs in the Mamata Banerjee cabinet, is to be formally appointed mayor by the 144-member CMC council on December 3.

“Some countries have been able to combat dengue despite being close to the equator, and this is because of a sustained awareness drive. We have to do the same,” Hakim said.

In Bengal, a period of around four months from the fag end of the monsoon is typically the season when mosquitoes breed rapidly. As the temperature drops below 16-17 degrees Celsius, mosquitoes breed less and dengue becomes less virulent.

This year, several dengue-related deaths have been reported in Calcutta and its surrounding areas since the festive season.

Apart from combating dengue, Hakim listed prevention of waterlogging in Behala and supply of drinking water to parts of Tollygunge and Jadavpur among his priorities. “Pockets of Behala still face waterlogging. We have to dredge the adjoining canal so that stagnant water is flushed out. The chief minister has also given me the task of improving water supply in Tollygunge and Jadavpur.”