The Bengal government on Monday ordered a robust cleanliness drive across the state to combat dengue, with a focus on peri-urban areas allegedly facing lax cleaning of Aedes aegypti mosquito breeding pockets.
In a meeting with district magistrates, chief medical officers, and secretaries of various departments, chief secretary H.K. Dwivedi under instructions from chief minister Mamata Banerjee extensively discussed the rise in dengue cases in peri-urban areas.
“The main challenge for the state in controlling dengue is the peri-urban areas. Instead of undertaking a special cleanliness drive, the chief secretary ordered the preparation of micro plans for long-term improvement of solid and liquid waste management in those areas,” said a senior bureaucrat who attended the meeting.
A source said although Monday was a holiday because of Karam Puja, Dwivedi called the emergency meeting on Mamata's order.
Dwivedi has also cancelled the leaves of all government employees associated with dengue management till the situation improves.
An official explained why tackling dengue in peri-urban areas is a major challenge.
“The peri-urban areas technically fall under gram panchayats but rural bodies fail to conduct the needed cleanliness drives,” said the official.
“The chief secretary told us to ensure a robust drive in those areas with the help of all state government wings, like the public works and the rural development departments,” said a senior health official.
“We found in a study that dengue cases are highest in districts with more peri-urban areas, like North 24-Parganas with peri-urban centres Rajarhat, Barrackpore, Barasat and Sodepur,” he added.
Although the state did not give official data, a health department source said Bengal had over 40,000 active dengue cases, and North and South 24-Parganas, Nadia, Howrah and Hooghly were most affected.
On Monday, Dwivedi asked all district magistrates to hold immediate meetings with councillors of affected municipalities, to ensure dengue prevention.
A state government official said they would request railway and Metro authorities to take up proper cleaning activities on their premises.