Dengue mess ahead of Commonwealth Games in Delhi

With the total cases of the vector-borne disease crossing 800, Municipal Corporation of Delhi statistics shows that the month of August itself had seen 689 dengue cases.

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Even as dengue cases in the month of August reach a five-year high in the national capital, Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) contract workers undertaking door-to-door checks to prevent mosquito breeding have threatened to go on a strike from next week demanding regularisation of their jobs.

The threat by 3,200 domestic breeding checkers (DBCs) to indefinitely cease work from September six in support of their demand will compound problems for the MCD which is already grappling with rapid increase in dengue cases.

With the total cases of the vector-borne disease crossing 800, MCD statistics shows that the month of August itself had seen 689 dengue cases (till August 28), a whopping increase compared to the same month in the previous years - 2009 (two cases), 2008 (71), 2007 (15) and 2006 (59). Moreover, the city reported 12 malaria cases this month.

MCD officials said stagnation of water at various sites due to Commonwealth Games construction work, heavy rains and humid weather have aided mosquito breeding. The situation is causing concern as the Games will be held in the month of October which generally witnesses high prevalence of dengue.

According to records, in 2009, the month of August recorded only two dengue cases last year while there were 33 cases in September, 337 in October and 713 in November. If the same trend continues, cases could be well past the 2006 total figure of 3,366 this season.

MCD insists that it was trying its best to tackle the situation. Officials said the civic body has issued 53,357 legal notices for mosquito breeding and launched prosecution against 8,805 people, 1,321 of them in this week itself.

Breeding has been found at a number of hospitals, government offices and educational institutions.

However, the DBCs, who are the eyes and ears of the corporation in preventing mosquito breeding, are now on the path of agitation. After a token strike today, they are gearing up for an indefinite strike till demands are met.

"The Delhi high court had in 2007 given a ruling in favour of our regularisation. We staged a 47-day strike in 2008 but called it off as MCD promised regularisation after assembly polls. The CAT also recently favoured our demand. MCD Standing Committee passed a proposal. What more do they need," asked Anti-Malaria Karamchari Sangh general secretary Ashok Choudhary.

MCD officials maintained that the civic body is facing a funds crunch and is not in a position to regularise 3,000 people. Choudhary, however, pointed out that 7,000 sanitation workers were being regularised by the civic body.

"We don't want to go on strike but have no option," he said.

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