The Delhi High Court on Friday directed the Chief Secretary of the Delhi government to personally look into the aspect of amending the law and increasing the penalty so that it acts as a deterrence against the breeding of mosquitoes that cause vector-borne diseases.

The High Court also asked the concerned authorities, including civic bodies, to furnish their action taken reports concerning control and prevention of vector-borne diseases in Delhi by the next date of hearing on March 25.

Regarding the proposal to enhance punishment and amend section 482 of the Delhi Municipal Act and Section 390 of the NDMC Act, a Bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Jasmeet Singh was informed by the Delhi government counsel that it was still pending active consideration.

Presently, there is a fine of Rs 500 for people who do not keep their surroundings clean and allow water to stagnate leading to mosquito breeding.

We direct the Chief Secretary, Delhi government to personally look into the said aspect so that the amendment in law is brought about at the earliest, the Bench said.

The Bench, which was hearing its suo motu case concerning large-scale mosquito breeding in the city, was informed by the corporations' counsel Divya Prakash Pande that a meeting was called on February 15 to discuss the common protocol to be evolved and finalised for prevention and control of vector-borne diseases.

However, the representatives of the Delhi government's Flood and Irrigation Department and Education Department were not represented. The representative of the Flood and Irrigation Department of State of Uttar Pradesh also did not attend the meeting despite notice, the court was informed.

Delhi government Counsel Satyakam said that prior notice was not received in the Flood and Irrigation Department and added that the department was willing to shoulder the roles and responsibilities assigned to the department except the sewage treatment plant which falls under the control of Delhi Jal Board and water bodies which are not in the control of Flood and Irrigation Department.

He said the Education Department was not aware of the meeting being fixed and assured that representatives of both the departments would attend the next meeting.

The Court termed it as very unfortunate that the UP government's Flood and Irrigation Department did not participate in the meeting despite service of notice and issued a notice to the Resident Commissioner of the neighbouring state to ensure that the orders are complied with.

The Court was informed that municipal corporation officials are not allowed to enter Mandoli jail premises by the prison staff to fog to control mosquito breeding.

The Court then issued notice to the Director-General of Prisons and said that in the next meeting, a senior officer from the Headquarters, Prisons shall also be present.

It further issued notice to the Director-General Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, noting that there was no representation of the National Vector Borne Diseases Control Programme in the meeting despite notice.

The Court had earlier appointed advocate Rajat Aneja as an amicus curiae to assist it in the matter and he was also allowed to participate in the stakeholder meetings.

The High Court had on December 24, 2021, directed that each of the local bodies, including East, South, and North MCDs, Delhi Cantonment Board, and New Delhi Municipal Council shall set up task forces headed by their commissioners concerned to monitor and control mosquito breeding.

It was informed that separate task forces have been constituted at headquarter and zonal levels and the first meeting was held on January 4.

Last year, the court had also pulled up the municipal corporations for their failure to control the spread of dengue which has doubled this year in the national capital, saying there was a complete paralysis in civic administration as no one is bothered about the deaths.

It had said that the authorities have become so populist in their approach that the policies are being made only in populist ways and they are scared of doing anything that will lose them votes.

With PTI inputs