Tuesday, September 7, 2010

MCD’s 11th hour warning: Games Village site most vulnerable to dengue

Says it was poor judgement to build flats for athletes near Yamuna bed

Surrounded by the Yamuna on three sides, the Commonwealth Games Village is the most susceptible spot for the spread of dengue, according to officials of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, who now say the site was a “poor selection” for hosting athletes from 71 countries.

The government is now enlisting the support of military experts and doctors from the National Institute of Malaria Research and the National Vector-Borne Disease Control Programme to secure the site that contains flats for athletes besides training facilities.

On Tuesday, Health Minister Kiran Walia visited the Village accompanied by experts and representatives of the civic bodies to ascertain what can be done to reduce the malaria and dengue menace at the site. “Work is being done on a war footing in the area. We have increased the strength of fumigators and dengue breeding checkers at the site,” Walia said.

“The Games Village is a priority now. We have put staff in all venues and intensified operations, but this site is a trouble area,” said MCD health official Dr V K Monga. In fact, an MCD survey to map dengue hotspots has found that the Village was the most vulnerable. As the monsoon nears its end, water will begin to recede in the Yamuna, creating pools of stagnant water, perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes, Dr Monga said.

Dr Monga said the authorities should have sought the opinion of the agencies and the health officials before they zeroed in on the site. But Walia was more guarded. “Maybe it was poor judgement to have the Games Village near the Yamuna, but now we can’t change that. What we can do is try to control the outbreak there,” she said.

The MCD doesn’t have the expertise to clean up the river bed that is at least 40 feet below the surface road,” Dr Monga said. “This is a fight against nature. We are trying to do whatever we can,” he said, adding that the MCD needed the coordination of all departments to fight the menace.

A Malaysian athlete, who was in the Capital in July to participate in the Asian All Star Athletic Meet, a test event for the Games held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, had been diagnosed with dengue. Later, the MCD and the health department traced the people she had met while on her tour, and the places she had stayed at, and carried on fumigation operations there, the officials said.

The civic body has come under fire from the government for not doing enough to control the outbreak. The agency said it hadn’t received the funds earmarked for the control of the vector-borne disease from the government. But Walia said she had released the funds on Tuesday after a meeting with Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad last week.

The MCD has now started spraying synthetic pyrethroids, potent lipophilic insecticides used for mosquito control in some South East Asian countries, at the CWG sites, as part of its intensified operations to control dengue. It will also be emptying the water trenches near the Yamuna bed, while Pest Control India officials will be in charge of fogging and spraying the residential areas inside the Village. A team has been called in to specially clean up the river bed, officials said.

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