Mumbai: The Bombay High Court Thursday asked municipal bodies in Maharashtra to file separate affidavits within six weeks enumerating what steps were taken to prevent the spread of diseases like dengue, malaria, swine flu, gastroenteritis and chicken gunya in their respective areas.
The direction was given by a bench headed by Chief Justice Mohit Shah on a PIL filed by activist Vishnu Gavali.
Earlier, the HC had given a similar direction to 23 municipal bodies regarding dengue. Of these, only four civic bodies filed affidavits.
Today, the HC bench expanded the scope of PIL to cover diseases other than dengue such as swine flu, malaria, gastro and chicken gunya.
On a petitioner's plea, the HC bench directed the civic bodies to launch a cleanliness drive by roping in children, NGOs and home guards.
In a related development, Kolhapur Municipal body filed an affidavit stating that 518 patients had been admitted in hospitals for treatment of gastroenteritis and 68 had contracted dengue, of whom one died. It also said that low- cost treatment was provided to them.
Among the civic bodies asked to furnish information through affidavits by April 26 are Municipal Corporations of Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Solapur, Ratnagiri, Pune, Sindhudurg, Miraj, Pimpri-Chinchward, Dhule, Ulhasnagar, Thane, Nashik Vasai-Virar, Mira-Bhayander, and Kalyan-Dombivali.
Claiming that human lives were lost in the state due to the disease caused by mosquito-borne virus, the petitioner sought urgent measures by authorities to check its spread.
At an earlier hearing, the government said there was no need to panic as Dengue was not contagious and said steps were being taken to stop breeding of mosquitoes in stagnant water.
The PIL said that recently several deaths occurred due to dengue and malaria, creating an "epidemic-like" situation. It alleged that deaths occurred due to lapses by government in providing medical facilities and prayed that authorities be directed to take immediate preventive steps.
"The state hospitals and semi-government hospitals, including the Directorate of Health, should not play with the life of the common man and no one should die for want of medical services and health care facilities," said the PIL.
It alleged that medical facilities provided at the government hospitals were not adequate and patients often had to approach private hospitals which charged exorbitant fees.