A series of old tales can be told on the half-hearted campaigns initiated to curb the menace that got withered away later for want of proper follow-up from the authorities. | File/AP
The mosquito menace is not new to Kochi, so are the campaigns to eradicate it.
A series of old tales can be told on the half-hearted campaigns initiated to curb the menace that got withered away later for want of proper follow-up from the authorities.
One of the strong interventions to eradicate the mosquito menace is that of judiciary. The Kerala High Court, in a 1996 judgement, came down heavily on the Corporation for ‘not taking any tangible action’ to combat the ‘mosquito crisis’ ‘by tackling it on a war footing’. The court did not stop there. It stepped in action to find out ways and means to ‘bail the Corporation out of its present precarious position in order to protect the health of the citizens’.
Justice Narayana Kurup, who pronounced the judgement, recalls that it was a situation similar to the present one.
“The mosquito menace was at its peak and the civic body under Mayor Somasundara Panicker was inert. The court therefore mobilised the men and materials.
A mega-scale fogging was planned and two commissioners were appointed to supervise this.
“The medicine for fogging was brought from Thoothukudi, about 1800 sailors of the Southern Naval Command extended their support. I was mocked from various corners saying the court has assumed the role of a ‘garbage supervisor’, but I retorted saying that the brunt of that cross is worth bearing,” said Narayana Kurup. He said that though the move came to a stop as it got into controversies of judicial overreach, the message was much publicised.
Councillor Leno Jacob, who was the Opposition leader at that time, counts it only as one of the many failed exercises to curb the mosquito menace.
“The movement reached nowhere. Mobi Varghese, owner of the St Mary’s Bankers, donated his vehicles for fogging. Singer Yesudas, along with others, sprayed few salts into the canals of Kochi, posed for some photos, and then walked away.
The mosquitoes in Kochi have seen so many of such failed campaigns,” said Leno Jacob.
K J Sohan, senior councillor and Town Planning Committee Chairman of Corporation, said that the focus should be shifted from fogging to tackling the growth of mosquitoes during the months of October to December.
“Fogging the entire city is not a practical idea, even the WHO has put guidelines on it. The city has canals approximately long as the distance from here to Goa. To maintain it properly is the most difficult task, and for it we need people.
“They’ll demand payment at the end of their work for which the Corporation doesn’t have money,” said Sohan.