The state government on Friday filed a report in the high court on the status of dengue in Bengal but did not specify the number of deaths or those affected by the disease.
The report spoke of the money spent on fighting the disease and the number of people deployed to do so.
The division bench of Chief Justice T.B.N. Radhakrishnan and Justice Arijit Banerjee gave time to the petitioner, an advocate of the high court, to scan the report. The matter will come up for hearing on January 10.
At least Rs 454 crore has been allotted for spreading awareness about dengue and engaging employees to fight the disease, according to the report.
On November 12, the bench had sought a report from the state on whether it had implemented the 2017 court guidelines to fight dengue in Bengal.
The bench wanted to know how many people had died or had been diagnosed with the disease this year.
The order followed a plea by two advocates alleging that dengue had been claiming lives in Bengal almost every day because of the state government’s failure to carry out the court’s directive.
On December 1, 2017, the division bench of the then Chief Justice Jyotirmay Bhattacharya and Justice Arijit Banerjee had — following a public interest litigation filed by advocate Anindya Sunder Das — framed a set of guidelines on combating dengue. The guidelines had stressed on the need for mobile medical vans, especially in rural areas, for treatment.
The bench in 2017 had directed the state to make people aware of the disease and provide medical kits and blood test equipment in every block of the state.
When asked why the number of affected people and dengue deaths did not figure in Friday’s report, a state panel lawyer said: “The 2017 guideline was aimed more at creating awareness and offering primary treatment. Since the high court had asked the government to inform whether it had followed the guideline or not the report only speaks of awareness drive and efforts at handing out primary health care.”
The bench gave the petitioner’s counsel Rabishankar Chattopadhaya time to file an affidavit and fixed the matter for hearing on January 10.
On December 3, chief minister Mamata Banerjee had told the Assembly that dengue had claimed 27 lives and more than 44,000 people tested positive for the disease in Bengal this year.
She said the death count — 27 out of the 44,852 dengue cases reported so far this year — showed the government’s efforts had helped many people recover from the disease.
Sources in Calcutta Municipal Corporation said about 1,500 dengue cases have been reported in the city this year, nearly half of them in the past couple of months. Six persons have died in the Calcutta municipal area.
While addressing the Assembly, the chief minister blamed poor infrastructure of some nursing homes and late arrival of dengue patients at hospitals and nursing homes for the deaths.