Mumbai: In a humanitarian gesture, the Bombay High Court Thursday cautioned the citizens to keep their houses as well as surroundings clean and hygienic in the wake of outbreak of dengue, saying it should not be left entirely to the Government to act.
"Government may use its machinery to prevent the spread of this dreaded disease but a responsibility is also cast upon the citizens to ensure that they keep their houses clean and free of mosquitoes," said a bench headed by Chief Justice Mohit Shah while hearing a petition.
Hearing a public interest litigation, the Bombay High Court asked Maharashtra Government and Directorate of Health Services in the State to file separate affidavits in reply to the public interest litigation, seeking to declare dengue, which has claimed several lives, as an epidemic.
While the State said it would file an affidavit tomorrow, the Directorate of Health Services has been asked to declare their stand in an affidavit by December 17.
The Court also asked the petitioner Vishnu Gavali to make Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and other civic bodies as respondents.
Besides the State Government and some civic bodies, the petitioner has also made Chief Minister Devendra Phadnavis, Chief Secretary of the State and City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) as parties to the PIL.
When the matter came up hearing, only State and CIDCO were represented while others were absent. The bench then inquired about the parties and directed all the concerned to be present on next occasion in the court.
The petitioner argued that people suffered from dengue in Navi Mumbai as well and there was an urgent need to prevent the disease from spreading. Dengue had claimed several lives in the State, the petition said and demanded that the Government should declare the disease as an epidemic
Gavali said CIDCO was not taking enough steps to control the disease and said his organisation was doing its bit to spread awareness about cleanliness and hygiene in the city.
The bench then asked CIDCO to file an affidavit within two weeks.
The Government pleader, making oral submissions, said that dengue was not contagious and hence there was no need to panic. However, it assured that the State was taking steps to clean the environment and drive away the mosquitoes from breeding in 'standing waters' giving rise to Dengue.
Some people had died of dengue and it may be possible that few victims of this dreaded disease do not complete the treatment and leave the medicines midway, the State contended.
Gavali prayed that the state government and concerned authorities be directed to take adequate measures to prevent the spread of dengue.
The PIL said that in the last five months, several persons have died due to dengue and malaria, which have created an "epidemic-like situation."
It alleged that deaths have occurred due to lapses in providing medical facilities by the government.
Alleging that the state health department has totally failed to stop or prevent the situation, the PIL prayed that the authorities be directed to take immediate preventive steps.
"The state government hospitals and semi-government hospitals, including Directorate of Health should not play with the life of the common man and no one should die without getting medical services and health care facilities," reads the PIL.
It alleged that the medical facility provided at the government hospitals was not adequate and patients often have to approach private hospitals, which charge high fee. A lot of people in rural and even urban areas cannot afford the costs of private hospitals, as a result of which they suffer.
The government and concerned municipal bodies have failed to clear debris and other garbage, which has resulted in accumulation of stagnant water in urban and rural areas. Even ponds have not been cleaned which has become a breeding place for mosquitoes, alleges PIL.
It condemned the stand taken by the health department that it will help only if local bodies approach them.
Further, the state government has miserably failed to create awareness among people about the disease and there is an urgent need to keep the environment clean.
Stating that an urgent note should be taken of the "epidemic-like situation" caused by dengue, the PIL prays that medical facilities must be declared as "essential" and must be provided to all those suffering from the dreaded disease.