LAHORE, Sept 13: Around 120 anti-mosquito spray machines of the total 180 machines bought recently by the City District Government of Lahore (CDGL) have become out of order, affecting the Indoor-Residual Spray (IRS) which is a major component of the ongoing fumigation drive, Dawn has learnt. Officials told Dawn on Tuesday the CDGL had purchased 180 spray machines worth Rs1.593 million (Rs8,850 each) from a private firm some time ago to carry out IRS in 150 union councils in nine towns of the provincial metropolis. But, more than 100 machines couldn’t work properly when the field staff started using the equipment in various localities.

They said the matter came into knowledge of the high-ups concerned when CDGL’s health wing handed over 150 machines to all TMAs to carry out IRS in 150 union councils in the light of chief minister’s instruction to the CDGL to hand over the entire fumigation resources to towns by decentralising the fumigation drive in order to implement it successfully in the fight against dengue.

“Most of the machines (nearly 120) of the total 150 handed over to towns by the CDGL’s health wing couldn’t work properly as soon as field staff appointed in union councils started using the equipment to carry out the IRS. We are surprised as to how the CDGL’s health wing carried out the IRS with the same defective machines before the CM ordered decentralising the fumigation drive,” a senior town official seeking anonymity told this reporter.

He said the situation exposed inability of the district health department’s high-ups or the authorities concerned who not only purchased poor quality machines but also continued the IRS with the same machines.

“I am of the view that the officials misled their seniors, including the DCO, the commissioner and the health secretary, by giving them ‘ok’ reports, particularly about IRS,” the official said.

He said the TMAs were in trouble to get the IRS task completed with the same defective machines. The TMAs also brought the situation into the knowledge of their seniors who have yet to take any action in this regard, the official added.

He claimed that as thermal fogging spray (the spray used to be done in open areas, roads and streets to eliminate mosquitoes) was injurious to public health, the IRS was an effective technique to exterminate mosquitoes to avoid dengue virus.

“The TMAs, municipal corporations or committees would carry out the IRS in the past and it proved to be an effective strategy to combat mosquitoes. You can check previous records of all municipal institutions. You will never find even a single case of dengue. Had the officials given attention to IRS and purchased good quality machines, they would have averted the dengue outbreak in Punjab, particularly in Lahore,” he added.

The official said though the IRS component had been decentralised, the other components of the fumigation drive such as thermal fogging spray and mosquito breeding sites destruction spray were yet to be handed over to the TMAs.

When contacted, DCO Ahad Cheema said the CDGL had purchased around 300 Chinese spray machines three years back and most of them were not working well. He said the CDGL had also bought 150 locally-manufactured machines last year which were reported to be functioning well.

“We have also purchased 400 more new machines a few days back in order to get the IRS done effectively. Now we have started distributing these machines to all UCs to carry out the fumigation against dengue effectively,” he added.

He, however, rejected the reports relating to purchase of 180 machines this year and that most of them were out of order.

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