Hyderabad

Form committee to improve public health: High Court

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State not taking adequate action to check fevers, says court

Taking exception to the official machinery’s response to the spread of dengue and other fevers in different parts of the State, the Telangana High Court on Thursday directed the State government to constitute a committee of top officials to take effective steps to improve public health.

The committee to be headed by Chief Secretary would meet every week to assess the incidence of dengue and other fevers and recommend remedial measures. It would present weekly reports to the HC on or before Thursday, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice A. Abhishek Reddy said in its direction. This would help the HC monitor the situation, it said.

In compliance with the bench’s direction issued the previous day, Chief Secretary S.K. Joshi, Municipal Administration and Urban Development Principal Secretary Arvind Kumar and GHMC Commissioner Lokesh Kumar, along with other top officials, appeared before the bench as it assembled in the morning. They were summoned to the HC as the bench felt the official machinery was ‘not adequately responding to the epidemic-like situation in the State’ in the backdrop of spread of dengue and other fever cases.

The direction to appear before the bench had been issued while hearing two Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petitions. The bench instructed that the committee would decide what areas needed to be covered to check incidence of fevers in the State capital and major towns. It would seek experts’ opinions on how many and what type of machinery, tools and equipment needed to be purchased.

“The State’s discretion has no binding on the committee’s decisions like purchase of machinery or deploying additional workers to improve public health and check the fevers,” the bench categorically said. While dictating the order, the bench asked GHMC Commissioner Lokesh Kumar how many power sprayers were required for controlling mosquitoes in the city. As he gave a figure less than 100, the CJ directed the government to increase number of power sprayers from the present 50 to 1,000.

Similarly, the number of other tools and machinery could be enhanced for destructing the mosquitoes and improving cleanliness, the bench said. The committee should not have just short-term goals of controlling the fevers but must recommend and exercise substantial methods to make Hyderabad, Secunderabad and surrounding Rangareddy district free of fevers, the CJ said.

At the beginning of the hearing, the bench elicited information on different aspects like garbage removal, mosquito destruction, sanitation in Hyderabad and other parts of the State. It expressed displeasure over the preparedness and reaction of the officials ‘even as people were dying’ of fevers.

Recalling that the bench had requested the top officials to ensure that more people did not fall prey to fevers, it said ‘this HC had the sad experience of the State not taking serious action as the situation warranted’. It observed that the State was creation of the ‘Social Contract’ theory and its bounden duty was to protect people. Protection is not only from external attacks but internal disturbances. These internal disturbances include ‘attacks inflicted by large population of mosquitoes’ as well, the bench noted.

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Printable version | Dec 10, 2019 6:28:57 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/form-committee-to-improve-public-health-high-court/article29790536.ece

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