Case against 5 for not keeping premises clean

The district health administration, as part of the infectious diseases prevention and control drive, has been using the regulatory provisions under the Travancore Cochin Public Health Act of 1955 to ensure that individuals keep their houses and premises clean and free of any circumstance which may pose a threat to public health.

The drive, being carried out by the district health administration under its SAFE Trivandrum initiative, has been quite successful in bringing many offenders to book.

Notice served

In the past eight days since the initiative was launched, health officials have served legal notices on 443 persons for failing to keep their surroundings clean and free of vector-breeding sites. Last week, officials charged criminal cases against five individuals at Vellarada, Venpakal and Vilavoorkal areas, who, despite being issued a show cause notice by health authorities had refused to clean their premises and rectify the situation posing a public health hazard.

“We charged criminal cases against the five individuals under Sections 89 and 42 of the Travancore Cochin Public Health Act and under Sections 188, 259 and 270 of the IPC for disobeying the notice issued by a public servant and for negligently creating circumstances which were hazardous to public health. We pressed criminal charges as the individuals concerned refused to recognise the urgency of the situation and did nothing to keep their premises clean, despite being given a week’s time to do so,” P.K. Raju, District Health Officer (Rural), said.

He said that the Health Department, from its side, was engaged in awareness creation against infectious diseases, cleaning activities and mosquito control measures such as fogging. However, individuals had to take responsibility for source reduction activities, which essentially had to take place around their own homes.

The officials decided to press ahead with regulatory measures under the Public Health Act as most people seemed to believe that source reduction was not their business. Regulatory measures have been proving effective to a large extent. In Pallichal grama panchayat, officials had served legal notices on more than 70 individuals for not keeping their premises clean and all of them followed through and rectified the situation within the stipulated time frame, Mr. Raju said.

He pointed out that ample warning and time were given to people to correct the unhealthy environs on their premises before issuing legal notices and that criminal charges were pressed only if the notices too were ignored by persons.

Health officials planned to intensify their initiative under SAFE Trivandrum as the next two months could see an explosion of infectious diseases, especially dengue, if the public did not fulfil their civic responsibilities