The district administration has been forced by the gravity of the worsening public health situation in the capital city to take the extreme measure of using the powers of the District Magistrate to enforce the provisions of Section 144 (2) of the Cr.PC to prevent people from dumping garbage at public places—an experiment which has been tried out at least three times elsewhere in the State, in the interest of public health.
While a steep rise in fever and dengue cases during the rainy season is a phenomenon that the city and the health system is quite used to tackling, it was the worsening garbage accumulation within the city which made District Collector K.N. Satheesh to adopt this stern step.
The section, when invoked to ‘prevent a threat to public health', will attract non-bailable provisions of the law if anyone is found dumping garbage at public places.
“This is the first time that the public health situation in the city has been up against such odds because there has been no garbage removal in the past five months. The decision to invoke Section 144 (2) of the Cr.PC was taken at the highest level after conferring with the Chief Minister, because of this perception of a serious threat to public health,” the Collector said.
The provision was used in Kasaragod municipality in September last year when the garbage accumulation situation there turned acute, to book those found dumping garbage on streets.
“The section had been evoked in the interest of public health many years ago in Thrissur, to forcefully close down ‘thattukadas' following a major outbreak of gastroenteritis. Similarly, the provision had been invoked in Ernakulam too in recent times during a cholera outbreak, to prevent public from contaminating water bodies,” Mr. Satheesh said.
75 dengue cases
Thiruvananthapuram, a district which has been endemic for dengue for the past several years, has already reported over 638 cases of confirmed dengue cases since January.
In the first eight days of the month of June itself, 75 confirmed cases of dengue has been reported, indicating the trend in the days to come when the rain is all set to intensify.
“There is no alarming situation of dengue in the capital right now. But as dengue is essentially linked to poor solid waste management in the city, invoking the Section will help the Corporation in garbage removal and in containing the resistance of people. This section is mainly intended to bring legal action against hoteliers and commercial establishments who dump huge quantities of garbage on the streets on the sly,” the District Collector said.
Health Secretary, Rajeev Sadanandan, said using the enabling provision of the section to contain the garbage accumulation crisis in the city was a “brilliant move” on the part of the Collector.