4 months ago

Non-discriminating culex vectors!

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Mosquitoes do not discriminate. Given an opportunity, they would bite everyone, be he or she a VIP (very important person) or an ordinary man. The vectors demonstrated their non-discriminatory trait during a DNCC drive to destroy their nests in thick layers of water hyacinth floating on the Rajuk Khal (some people call it lake) at Uttara last Wednesday. The Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) organised the drive as part of their Mosquito Eradication Programme.

The moment the labourers, assigned to the cleaning job, tried to pull water hyacinths out of the canal using long-handled tools, mosquitoes in their zillions swarmed the area and attacked everybody present there. The tiny flying insects did not spare Local government, Rural Development and Cooperatives Minister Mr Md. Tajul Islam, who attended the programme as the chief guest and DNCC Mayor Atiqul Islam, the organiser of the event. They were seen using their hands to drive away the marauding gangs of mosquitoes.

The canal cleaning programme was organised amidst growing fear of yet another major outbreak of dengue this year. Last year the country saw an unprecedented outbreak that, according to official estimates, claimed 1,705 lives and made 321,000 persons afflicted with the disease. An entomologist present at Wednesday's event while talking to a TV channel expressed his strong fear of a far more intense dengue outbreak this year, with more areas other than Dhaka remaining particularly vulnerable.

This is the first time dengue has made known its presence throughout the year. A few spells of rains have already led to accumulation of water in receptacles considered potential breeding grounds. Baishakh may see more rains and then the onset of the monsoon will not be far away. Residents of Dhaka and other places, like in the past, will have no option other than submitting to virulent Aedes mosquitoes and suffering. The authorities concerned have concentrated more on advising people to build a 'social movement' to contain dengue than doing something substantive on their part. Advice alone can hardly instigate any social movement against Aedes mosquitoes. Some people need to be on the spot and provide leadership to make that happen. That part is missing until now. Besides, there has to be 'dawa with doa'. The local government institutions need to join hands with other social and voluntary organisations to launch drives for destroying the breeding grounds of Aedes. Nothing is visible so far in this respect.

While Aedes mosquitoes are silent killers, their culex cousins in addition to causing diseases such as malaria and Japanese encephalitis are considered major irritants after dusk. Unlike Aedes, culex mosquitoes choose stagnant dirty water of drains and canals as breeding ground.

Mayor Atiq, while speaking at the last Wednesday's event, complained that the DNCC had cleaned the Uttara canal belonging to both Rajuk and Dhaka WASA twice before. The DNCC, he said, has requested its owners to transfer the canal to it for better management.

Here, it would not be out of place to seek to know from the DNCC the state of the canals that it had taken over from the DWASA three to four years back. The two city corporations had insisted on the transfer of the dying or dead canals from the DWASA for their expeditious restoration. Cleaning one part or another of a canal cannot be considered its restoration to the old state. To put a canal to its old and natural state would require eviction of encroachers, forcibly or otherwise, excavation and constant cleaning. The DNCC has yet to demonstrate its strong resolve to complete that task. Residents who live on or along these canals' banks and bear with water logging and constant mosquito bites expect better performance from the DNCC.


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