Pre-monsoon sanitation drive delayed in many wards: Mayor

Civic authorities remain non-committal even as the city flirts dangerously with a public-health nightmare as garbage mounds pulled out of overflowing drains line the major roads with the onset of the monsoon.

Mayor A.K. Premajam, on Sunday, agreed that “pre-monsoon” sanitation drive had been delayed in many wards. For this, she blames the lack of initiative on the part of “some” councillors.

On major city roads, pedestrians — man, woman and child — waltz between water-logged roads and rakishly placed concrete slabs that cover the overflowing drains of the city’s pavements. Sludge raked up from drains lap pedestrians’ feet.

“Blocked drains cough up polluted water and waste that enter free-flowing canals. Contact with this leads to vector-borne diseases like dengue, filariasis, leptospirosis, and Japanese encephalitis. Those with leg wounds are especially prone to this danger,” Vimal Raj, District Malaria Officer, Public Health Department, said.

‘High risk’

Describing the Corporation limits as a “high risk” area, he said the public health activities of the local body had been negligible.

“Squarely put, sanitation within city limits is the duty of the Corporation’s health department. But even routine monitoring is not being done even after 22 suspected dengue cases have been found within the Corporation limits. Their officials rarely attend public health meetings,” Mr. Raj said.

Asked why his department could not liaison with the Corporation in public interest, Mr. Raj said his department’s jurisdiction was limited to the 75 panchayats of the district.

He, however, said his department had a district vector-control unit operating within the Corporation limits. Running on a skeletal staff, it just conducted random house visits.

Every ward has a sanitation committee headed by the ward councillor concerned. A health inspector is the panel’s convenor. This panel has to chalk out the action plan for the pre-monsoon cleaning drive, including identifying drains that have to be given priority and cleaned first. Each ward receives between Rs.15,000 and Rs.75,000 for the drive.

“Last when I checked, several councillors had called a meeting of the committee only in late May. In future, I will see to it that the sanitation work starts early,” the Mayor said.

‘No fund shortage’

Meanwhile, P. Raveendran, district coordinator, Suchitwa Mission, said there was no shortage of funds for the annual pre-monsoon cleaning drive. The district had got a total Rs.1.5 crore in 2012-13 for this purpose.

“About Rs.7 lakh allocated to the Kozhikode Corporation last year for pre-monsoon health campaigns lies untouched,” he said.

As far as panchayats are concerned, each one is allotted a total sanitation fund of Rs.25,000 — drawn from the National Rural Health Mission, Suchitwa Mission, and the panchayat’s own welfare funds.

Incidentally, it was only last week that the government had sanctioned pre-monsoon campaign funds of Rs.4.40 lakh and Rs.4.70 lakh for Vadakara and Koyilandy municipalities, respectively, for this year.

More In: Kozhikode