The National Green Tribunal today hit out at Delhi government, civic bodies and other public authorities for making "unbelievable" claims and "vague statements" regarding steps to tackle diseases like dengue and chikungunya.
"Except numerous vague statements which are being made by the corporations and by authorities that they have been making all possible efforts to control these diseases, nothing substantial has been placed before us on record. There are certain averments which are unbelievable," a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Swatanter Kumar observed.
It said the right to clean, decent environment and public health was a fundamental right and financial limitations should not come in the way of providing good health and environment to the people.
While issuing a slew of directions, the bench constituted a Principal Committee headed by the Chief Secretary of Delhi Government and comprising Commissioners of all corporations, Vice Chairman of DDA, Head of the Cantonment Board, New Delhi Municipal Council, Principal Secretary of Health and Director General of Health Services of Delhi Government as members to deal with the "menace" of these vector-borne diseases.
The bench passed the order on a petition which was mentioned before it by former scientist of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) Mahendra Pandey, for issuance of various directions and setting up of Committees to implement precautionary, preventive and curative actions to ensure that the residents of Delhi are not exposed to serious diseases like Dengue, Chikungunya and other allied diseases.
It also directed the Principal Committee to convene its urgent meeting tomorrow at the Chief Secretary's office and submit a status report in 15 days and posted the matter for further hearing on October 17.
The plea mentioned through advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal also sought direction to authorites for not doing outdoor thermal fogging, to control dengue, saying it is allegedly anti-environment and causes air pollution.
On this, the tribunal directed that the officials should identify the area of fumigation and said this should not be done unnecessarily as it contains melathion/pyrethrin which can be injurious to human health, but only after taking specific professional recommendations.
The tribunal, in its order, observed that there has been widespread menace of these diseases which
were continuing for few months, resulting in deaths and other serious consequences.
"It cannot be disputed that they find their origin in lack of sanitation and hygiene. The primary cause being breeding of mosquitoes. Of course it is also stated that dengue and chikungunya mosquitoes breed on clear stagnated water as well as on the water in potted plants and coolers," the green panel said.
It referred to a statement of an officer of east Delhi municipal corporation that he had 700 domestic breeding checkers who have visited eight lakh houses seven times, meaning thereby there are 56 lakh visits by these persons.
"This statement is difficult to be believed and we infact do not believe it. If that was the case and all preventive and precautionary measures had been taken by the Corporations, then there is no doubt that such seasonal and Vector Borne Diseases would not have been there at all. In any case not at this scale. We do not propose to advert ourselves on the vague statements which have been made on behalf of thecorporations and authorities," the bench said.
The NGT asked the committee to issue directions to the areas adjacent to NCR and added that they would invite the Deputy Commissioner of these districts in relation to which the directions are being issued. The directions shall equally bind the entire areas falling in NCR.
It said committee will be responsible for policy making and implementation of such decisions which would outline the preventive, precautionary and curative measures to be taken by the authorities, corporations and councils without exception.
"This committee will ensure that in every colony there is no stagnation of water and municipal solid waste," it said, adding that the committee will have to ensure that the directions of tribunal are fully and effectively implemented.
The bench said every corporation and its various offices shall provide the contact number to public and advertise it in media for enabling the family members of the persons who has been infected by such diseases to inform the authorities.
It also directed the Medical Superintendent of all the private and government hospitals to maintain a separate counters for registration of patients suffering from dengue, chikungunya and other allied diseases and ensure effective treatment is provided to them.
"Undoubtedly, we express pious hope that all the residents of NCR of Delhi particularly the NCT of Delhi would fully cooperate and assist the public authorities in taking the preventive steps effectively to ensure that public at large does not suffer this health hazard any longer," it said.