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New Delhi: Mosquito Breeding Checkers Go On An Indefinite Hunger Strike

The national capital of the country witnesses a health crisis with the onset of dengue and chikungunya. And to make things worse, 3500 mosquito breeding checkers of all three municipal corporations go on an indefinite hunger strike from Tuesday

New Delhi: Mosquito Breeding Checkers Go On An Indefinite Hunger Strike

DBCs go on an indefinite hunger strike

HIGHLIGHTS

  1. 3500 mosquito breeding checkers on an indefinite hunger strike
  2. The workers complain they are being asked to work under bad conditions
  3. Target is impossible to meet due to shortage of labour

New Delhi: The national capital of the country witnesses a health crisis with the onset of dengue and chikungunya. And to make things worse, 3500 mosquito breeding checkers of all three municipal corporations go on an indefinite hunger strike from Tuesday. These people are responsible for going around the city and preventing the mass breakout of dengue and chikungunya in the city. Under the aegis of Anti-Malaria Ekta Karamchari Union (AMKU), 3500 DBCs sat on a hunger strike demanding a revision and regularization of salaries and provision of medical facilities. DBCs (Dengue Breeding Checkers) would be submitting a detailed charter of 13 demands to the commissioner of the three corporations on Wednesday.

"We have been working to prevent dengue, chikungunya and malaria in the city for over 21 years now. But, in return, we have not been regularised. When we sat on a strike in January, we were assured by the authorities that all our demands would be met. It has been over seven months since then, but they have not budged." said Madan Pal, the AMKU general secretary.

The DBCs are paid on a daily basis and go from one house to the other to check for stagnant water in tanks, coolers, near ACs or flower pots that are the breeding grounds for mosquitoes. If larvae are detected, a notice is issued to the residents of the place to get rid of stagnant water. If the residents fail to do so, then during the second visit, a fine is levied. DBCs also carry out fogging in colonies.

The workers complain that they are being asked to work under inhumane conditions. When they joined in 1996, they were paid an amount of Rs.2000 per month. At present they are getting Rs.13000 a month with no benefits or health provisions.

A number of workers complained that their salaries are not dispatched regularly and for the past three months, the workers have not received the amount. This is recurring problem, particularly in the East Delhi Municipal Corporation, apparently due to shortage of funds.

Another problem is the shortage of man power. They demand the authorities to hire more people. At present, each worker has to visit 55 houses every day and follow up at the end of 21 days. This target is impossible to meet due to shortage of labour, says the DBC staff.

Leader of the Opposition of the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), Ramesh Matiala stands in favour of the DBCs. He informed that the civil bodies raised the issue of regularising the DBCs in BJP-led house meeting but these discussions were not paid much heat and shot down.

"I wrote two letters to the Mayor and the Commissioner listing the problems of DBCs, but to no avail. If these workers are not given minimum work conditions, the work of dengue and chikungunya prevention will suffer. The situation is already bad," says Mr. Matiala.

At present, 435 cases of dengue where one patient died, 208 cases of chikungunya and 244 cases of malaria have been reported in Delhi itself.

SDMC Mayor Kamaljeet Sehrawat reveals that a meeting would be conducted with the union leaders to find a solution to this strike.

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