HC Pulls up Administration over Dengue measures

Hyderabad: The Division Bench of Telangana High Court, comprising of Chief Justice Raghavendra Singh Chauhan and Justice A. Abhishek Reddy, came down heavily on the State administration for its failure in taking early and effective steps in the prevention of dengue fever in the Hyderabad,telangana state. “People are dying right, left and centre, the situation is almost reaching epidemic proportions, but no steps are being taken and we are unhappy at this state of affairs”, the Bench stated to the Chief Secretary of the State, S.K. Joshi, who appeared in person on the directions of the Court. Also present in Court were Principal Secretary, Municipal Administration & Urban Development Department, Aravind Kumar, GHMC Commissioner D.S. Lokesh Kumar and several other officers from the Health Municipal and other departments.

The Bench asked the Chief Secretary to take the mike and directly questioned him on various aspects. When the Chief Secretary tried to state that certain steps could not be taken due to Model Code of Conduct, the Bench was livid and asked him if the same would be done if an earthquake strikes in Hyderabad during elections. It questioned as to how elections can come in the way of tackling such an emergency affecting the people of the state. Elections are not more important than the lives of people, it asserted. The Chief Secretary informed the Court that a one-month-long program was undertaken across the state for addressing sanitation and hygiene issues to which the Chief Justice asked whether they have any concrete data regarding the work done in this regard. It was also stated that if the action of the administration was effective, then why would the cases of dengue fever in Hyderabad increase 500% over these few months. He said if Sri Lanka, a small country could achieve complete eradication of mosquitoes, what is preventing Telangana in taking effective steps to control dengue fever. It appears there is a lack of will power, he said.

The Chief Justice grilled the senior IAS officers about the number of mounted fogging machines, which were only 10, reduced by three after the direction of the Court to increase their number. The Chief Justice said if this is the attitude of the administration, then the Court would not hesitate to order the State to pay compensation of Rs 50 lakhs to the family of each person dying of dengue fever. The State is showing a lack of seriousness in dealing with the problem despite the Court’s repeated warning about the magnitude of the problem. “All your action plans seem to exist on paper only, not in reality”, quipped the Chief Justice. Saying that Musi river is the biggest mosquito breeding area, he said the officials must tour the area and access the situation themselves. The Chief Justice wondered why the State was not using advanced technology like drones for fogging and other control measures. He said the same was used in the Chief Justice house and so why can’t it be used everywhere.

Principal Secretary Aravind Kumar informed the Court about the garbage disposal system in Hyderabad. He said around 164 heavy 25 tonne vehicles lift the garbage from collecting stations, where it is dropped by 502 small vehicles and 2000 Swacch autos. He said earlier only 3000 to 4000 tonnes of garbage used to be lifted from GHMC areas per day. After swachh autos were introduced in 2015, they could collect garbage from each household and that led to the increase of garbage collection to 5500 tonnes per day and now it’s 7000 tonnes per day.

Noting that if everything is done in such an impressive manner, why would the city have so much garbage everywhere, the Chief Justice wondered whether the steps being taken are simply insufficient. He wanted the planners and administrators to have a vision of Hyderabad for 2040. He directed that a high-level committee be formed with concerned department heads and take effective steps for prevention and control of dengue fever in Hyderabad,Telangana state. The action being taken would be monitored by the High Court. The case was adjourned to November 1st while the personal appearance of Chief Secretary and other senior IAS officers has been dispensed with for the next hearing.

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