More health risks in waterlogged areas

Stagnant water

More health risks in waterlogged areas

Water-logging has become a common problem this monsoon, due to a variety of factors — a poorly-maintained drainage system, improper disposal of trash and general lack of cleanliness on the streets, to mention a few.

But along with the inconveniences this causes in terms of traffic congestion and the like, the issue presents several health concerns as well. In fact, over the last few weeks, Bangaloreans have been alarmed by the amount of stagnant water in the City, which is the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes and a host of diseases.

Bangalore’s drainage system is desperately in need of an overhaul. The BBMP is currently tackling the system one portion at a time, desilting and clearing out drains in areas that are most prone to water-logging. Laxmi Narayan, the commissioner of the body, admits that certain areas tend to present more problems than others in terms of effective drainage. This is because of the landscape as well as excessive construction, which tends to break down water-ways under the ground. According to him, the east zone is particularly prone to the problem. However, it’s a nuisance that persists in many other pockets of the City as well. “I live in Kumaraswamy Layout and there are certain points which are always waterlogged after a brief spell of rain. Partly, this is because of clogged drains. But there are other factors as well — for instance, debris from many construction sites is left uncleared and blocks channels for water to flow away.

Besides, water also accumulates in potholes on the road,” explains Archana, a software engineer.

She admits that residents of the area are concerned about the health risks this could pose. “There’s a slum nearby, in Chandra Nagar, and the residents of that area are particularly vulnerable to ailments that could spread because of stagnant water,” she adds.

Dr Naveen Rao, a surgeon who stays on Bannerghatta Road, has also faced this problem. In his opinion, the public is to be blamed as much as the BBMP for the state of the drains. “In areas like BTM Layout, people often throw trash and debris into drains. Either way, the potential repercussions are alarming. Firstly, in Bangalore, there is always the risk of stagnant water mixing with the drinking water at several levels, especially if drains are in bad condition. This leads to a variety of regular infections like fever and a sore throat. Other fevers — such as malaria, typhoid and rat fever — are also spread. In fact, these ailments are more common in Bangalore than other metropolitan cities,” he elaborates.

Not surprisingly, the number of dengue-afflicted patients is also increasing. Dr Dayananda, a physician, explains, “The aedes mosquito, which spreads dengue, breeds in stagnant water. The mosquito plays host to the dengue virus and infects people it bites. The problem is that dengue isn’t only restricted to areas where water-logging occurs because the mosquito can easily carry it to hygienic areas as well. We have noted an increase in the number of patients suffering from dengue, although it’s hard to accurately quantify this rise. It has to be kept in mind that in some cases, people actually contract dengue and never realise it since the symptoms closely resemble other viral infections. Because of that, many cases go unreported.”

Bangaloreans feel that a little foresight on the part of the BBMP could help curb the problem. “The effort has to be continuous. There’s no point waking up a month before the monsoon — in some cases, even later — and trying to clear out the City’s drainage system. It has to be a year-round initiative,” concludes Ranjan, a professional.

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