In a first, Bengal awards for Durga Puja committee for help to tackle dengue | Kolkata

KOLKATA: The West Bengal government on Tuesday announced awards for Durga puja committees that run awareness campaigns to help the administration tackle the dengue menace in the state. The announcement comes against the backdrop of a sharp increase in dengue cases in eight districts of the state including Kolkata, North 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly, Murshidabad, South 24 Parganas, Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling.

“Special Swasthya Bandhab awards will be awarded to puja committees in rural areas that organize awareness programs to tackle the menace. This is for the first time that such awards are being announced to tackle dengue,” said an official of the state panchayat and rural development department.

Around 40,000 community pujas are organised across the state every year. Of these, around 2,500 are held in Kolkata. The Mamata Banerjee government has announced 60,000 grant to each puja committee. Over the past two years, the puja committee was mandated to spend the money to distribute masks and sanitizers.

According to the state health department data, the total number of dengue patients admitted to various government hospitals across the state was 745 on September 24, up from the 315 patients admitted on September 8.

“Dengue cases have spiralled this year,” said a senior official of the state health department.

In Kolkata, at least four persons have died due to dengue in the last two months. Officials said south Kolkata alone has reported 800 cases between January and September (till September 11) as compared to 250 cases reported from north Kolkata.

“One possible reason for this is that south Kolkata, which is still developing, has more drains, vacant plots, ponds and wells compared to the north. These become breeding grounds during monsoon,” said Debasis Biswas, senior vector control officer of Kolkata Municipal Corporation.

At least 88% of the vacant plots of the city are located in the south. South Kolkata has more than 775 of the city’s ponds, 85% of the ponds and 88% drains.

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