Dengue outbreak in Himachal Pradesh

Himachal Dengue Outbreak: Out of total 401, 265 cases reported from BBN & Parwanoo alone

30 cases of dengue were reported in September 2015 too.  In 2010, the quality of water was given D grade on a scale of A-E by the State Department of Environment, Science & Technology. 

Shimla: The number of dengue cases in Himachal Pradesh has reached an alarming level. So far, out total 2,621 blood samples taken by the Health Department, 401 were found positive for dengue.

As many as 265 cases (66%) were reported from Solan district’s Parwanoo and Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh areas alone.

Mostly, the patients belong to a population of about 1.25 laborers employed at over 4,000 industrial units in the area.

It is pertinent to mention that, 30 cases of dengue were reported in September 2015 too. The administration had issued orders to take measure to deal with the disease and sensitize people about its causes and prevention. However, the situation has only worsen by 2017.

In 2010,the State government had itself admitted that the quality of the water was degrading in the area after it was given D grade on a scale of A-E by the State Department of Environment, Science & Technology. 

The health department is satisfied with the fact that the disease has not killed anyone yet. Also, the department did not cite the possible cause of the dengue outbreak.

The Minister claimed he has directed the Pollution Control Board to carry out inspections in the affected areas and issued an advisory to check the spread of dengue.

The advisory asks people to maintain hygiene in their surroundings and rush to hospital on experiencing symptoms of Dengue like severe joint and muscle pain, swollen lymph nodes, headache, fever, exhaustion, and rash. The advisory also asked the people to use mosquito repellents.

Dengue is caused by a type of mosquito that is mostly attracted by polluted water sources or accumulated water.

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The industries in the BBN are aptly creating suitable environment to facilitate growth of such agents of diseases. The pharmaceutical companies are responsible for production of about 35 percent of the total medical drug supply to the Asian market.

Most of the other industries are associated with chemicals, plastics, dying units and boilers. Heavy extraction of ground water, ground water pollution, and hazardous waste dumping in a stretch of almost 35 kms have been the key problems. The situation is affecting over 21 Panchayats and 115 villages.

Most of the companies have been openly flaunting environmental laws related to treatment of the industrial waste before discharge. The industries are saving money by illegally discharging the affluent into the Sirsa, Markanda, and Sukhna Nallah catchment.

As the situation has now taken a severe form, the government is compelled to issue a media statement, in which the health department claimed taking effective steps to deal with the situation, conducting free of cost tests, distributing free medicines, and carrying out fumigation.

Earlier, the surveys and studies showed high number of cancer and TB cases in the region that were associated with the soil, air, and water pollution due to illegal discharge of industrial waste, and now the region has reported a dengue outbreak.

Despite being aware of excess pollution by the industrial units in the BBN area, it hardly bothered the state Health Department or the Pollution Control Board.

Last year’s deadly jaundice outbreak in Shimla and Solan that had killed over a dozen and affected thousands of others was also caused by the carelessness of the government.

In this case, the contractor of the Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) was releasing untreated sewage into the Ashwani Khad – the source of Shimla’s drinking water supply. The supply of the water had continued for over an week after it was found contaminated with the Hepatitis E virus.

The government did not pay much attention to the issue until people started dying of it.

Similarly, the government is waiting to make a massacre inevitable in the BBN region.

After facing a pressure from environmental groups, the HP PCB said it has prepared a plan to tackle the issue of ambient air pollution in the BBN area, which is pending with the Central PCB. However, the air pollution is clearly not the only problem in the area.

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