Piles of Tender Coconut Shells Waste a Breeding Place for Mosquitoes Spreading Malaria/Dengue

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Piles of Tender Coconut Shells Waste a Breeding Place for Mosquitoes Spreading Malaria/Dengue. Are our district authorities right from DK Deputy Commissioner, MCC Commissioner, MCC Mayor, and other MCC Health Officers aware of the fact that these diseases are spread by o[pen drainage that has been running through the City for decades, and now the menace of these coconut shells and other garbage discarded mainly by the street vendors. And while MCC still owes nearly Rs 95 crores in pending bills to Antony Waste Handling Cell for hauling City’s garbage, the weight of hauling these coconut shells will add more to the pending bills- since transporting garbage charges depend on the weight!

Mangaluru: With the onset of the monsoon, the health department and Mangaluru City Corporation (MCC) have been gearing up to check the spread of malaria. Though Dakshina Kannada has been witnessing a decreasing trend in the number of malaria cases over the past five years, the department is well prepared to tackle vector-borne diseases. While the district had reported 69 malaria cases between January and May 2022, only 20 cases were reported till May this year.

District vector-borne disease control programme officer Dr Naveenchandra Kulal had said that while the health department has deployed 45 urban malaria workers (UMW) to create awareness and carry out other works for mosquito source reduction in Mangaluru city, the MCC also has a team of 60 multi-purpose workers to take up various initiatives, including conducting blood tests. “The UMWs will visit construction sites and other places to create awareness of malaria and collect blood samples for tests. They will also create awareness to curb mosquito breeding in stagnant water. In addition, each public health centre (PHC) has two health workers each, and Asha workers have also been deployed for malaria prevention activities,” Dr Kulal said, adding that nearly 90% of the malaria cases of the district are reported in the MCC limits.

He added that stagnant water at construction sites is a major issue in Mangaluru city. The former MCC commissioner K Channabassappa had said that the city corporation has formed teams to take up measures to clear and prevent waterlogging in the city. “Action will be taken to penalise violators in case of negligence. The city corporation will clear waterlogged places, and barricades will be erected around such places to prevent mishaps,” he added.

While the Health Officers at Mangaluru City Corporation, and a few days, District health officer (DHO) Dr Kishore Kumar who had held a press meet at Mangaluru Press Club stated, “People should take precautionary measures and be aware of various vector-borne diseases since these diseases are becoming more prevalent in our district. Monsoon season is a challenging period as mosquitoes breed in stagnant water. As many as 56 malaria cases and 24 cases of dengue are registered in the district. By ignoring stagnant water in the surroundings, humans have entirely contributed to the spread of malaria. The symptoms of malaria are high temperature, headache, muscle pain, vomiting and diarrhoea. There is no immediate cure for dengue”.

Well said by the DHO, however, has he or his staff gone around the City to see the overflowing drainage/manholes, openly flowing sewage drainage etc- I bet not, and for his kind information, has he checked on the piles of tender coconut shells which are the main reason for mosquito breeding in spreading these diseases. So what’s the point in having a press meet for the sake of a publicity stunt? Anyways, as they say, better late than, it would be nice if the DHO and the health officers at MCC take the necessary action in seeing that the mess of tender coconut shells waste is cleared before the said diseases are spread.

With summer comes the trend of drinking tender coconut water, which is profitable for vendors but results in discarded coconut shells littering street corners. And people even enjoy tender coconuts during monsoons also for health benefits. Even as citizens complain about coconut shells piling up in many areas, MCC workers and waste collectors refuse to clear them due to the high volume, and vendors dump them in vacant areas and city outskirts.

Years ago there were only a few tender coconut sellers in the City, unlike now, you could see them at every nook and corner of the City, and the tender coconut waste has been hauled for FREE by the Pourakarmikas of Antony Waste Handling Cell (AWHC). And since Mangaluru city corporation has to pay AWHC by the weight, the weight of all these tender coconut shells adds a huge amount. Already MCC owes AWHC nearly Rs 95 crores in ABC payments and continues to allow the tender coconuts waste to be hauled, adding more to pending payment.

Under the tenure of former MCC Commissioner Akshay Sridhar, the Mangaluru City Corporation (MCC) decided to collect Solid Waste Management Cess (SWM cess) from all the tender coconut sellers in the city. Tender coconut sellers in the city had to pay the SWM cess and obtain a temporary trade licence from the MCC, to continue their business in the city, according to an order issued by then MCC commissioner Akshay Sridhar. “All tender coconut sellers, who are conducting business on push carts by the side of the road in the city, will have to pay SWM cess as per the Solid Waste Management Rules 2016 and MCC SWM and Sanitation Bylaws 2019. The solid waste from those traders will be collected only after they pay the SWM cess, and obtain a temporary trade licence for six months from the MCC,” the order stated.

Accordingly, the commissioner said that traders who sell tender coconuts on push carts will have to pay Rs 2,080 as SWM cess, and Rs 200 for a temporary trade licence. But on second thought, I am very positive this rule has not been materialized and these tender coconut sellers are enjoying their business and producing more waste for Free. What a Bhagya!

While the figures available with the Health Department do not indicate large clusters of dengue cases, the steady and spread-out occurrence reveals a let-up in the efforts to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes that transmit the dengue-causing virus. Rainwater in discarded tender coconut shells is an ideal breeding space for mosquitoes. Apart from Coconut shells, worn-out tyres, broken bottles and bulbs still get dumped in open spaces and turn into receptacles of rainwater that the mosquitoes need as breeding space. Carry bags too get dumped along roads or on vacant land.

Yours Truly of Team Mangalorean witnessed an anguished worker of AWHC venting her anger on the rich and educated lady occupant of a house on Bejai road, after catching the latter hurling coconut shells into the open space across the road. “We have been telling you about the risks every day, and still you people do not learn,” she shouts. Public cooperation has been good whenever the campaign starts on an intensive note. As days pass, the cooperation wanes and these breeding sources are dumped recklessly again, Bah humbug!

Yes, coconut shells and other waste material that may cause stagnation of rainwater lead to the spread of various diseases, but nothing has been done by the officials, other than arranging meetings/press meets, all for a publicity stunt. As per law, violating the law shall be punishable under section 188 of the Indian Penal Code, but one from the department is enforcing the law. “During the monsoons, the empty tender coconut shells and other waste material which are spread all over the City along the roadsides, especially at tourist spots and the bus stand etc are favourable places for mosquito breeding which cause diseases like Malaria/Dengue, etc. In Human life, health and safety, it is necessary that these empty tender coconut shells and other waste materials should be removed before the onset of monsoon,”. Hope our authorities are listening and will follow after reading this report.

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