Congress accused of ignoring public health at VMC meet

The issue of rise in the number of viral fevers and death of two persons allegedly due to dengue and malaria rocked the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation (VMC) general body meeting on Wednesday. Opposition parties — the CPI, the CPI (M) and the TDP – staged a walkout when Mayor M.V. Ratna Bindu refused to change the order of subjects and discuss the mosquito menace and viral fevers as a “top priority”. She asserted that the subject could be taken up in the serial order as only 16 other issues preceded the resolution on viral fevers. The opposition parties alleged that the ruling Congress was interested more in installation of statues and naming of streets rather than public health. The Congress corporators rebutted the allegation, saying the opposition parties were keen on getting their photos published in newspapers.

Breeding grounds

The subject came up for discussion after lunch hour, and the corporators, cutting across party lines, expressed concern over “deteriorating public health” and the swelling mosquito population in the city. They pointed out that vacant lands, including those owned by the VMC, the Railways and individuals, had become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. There was a shortage of medicines and lab technicians in malaria centres, and fogging and anti-larval operations were not satisfactory, the corporators said. They urged the officials to take immediate measures to control the spread of communicable diseases. Former deputy mayor and Congress senior corporator Samanthapudi Narasaraju expressed the view that the corporation officials were not giving attention to fundamental reasons behind the spread of mosquitoes and malaria. Instead of taking up anti-larval operations, the VMC was relying on mosquito control activities, he said.

Dearth of staff

CPI (M) floor leader Ch. Babu Rao alleged that there was a dearth of staff to deal with malaria in the city. While the government was keen on opening a bar for every 12,000 people, it had thrown public health to the winds. It ignored the norm that there should be an official to deal with malaria for every 5,000 people. Public health was a prime indicator of development of any city. But the development of infrastructure like underground drainage and storm water drains at a cost of Rs. 600 crores had no impact on public health, he said. Municipal Commissioner G. Ravi Babu, replying to queries and concerns of the corporators, said that the VMC was contemplating issuing notices to vacant land owners who were not maintaining their lands properly. CPI floor leader D. Sankar, TDP floor leader Yerubothu Ramana and others spoke.

Keywords: viral fever

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