Potential dengue breeding

Water feature in Rajakeeya Mawatha

The new water feature near the roundabout at the end of Rajakeeya Mawatha(pic by Saman Abesiriwardena)

by Sajitha Prematunge

There have been more than 18,760 dengue cases so far this year, According to the Epidemiology Unit. Approximately 30.3 percent of the cases were reported from the Western Province. The highest number of cases, 2,665, have been reported from the Colombo District. The severity of the outbreak forced the health authorities to impose heavy fines on those who create an environment conducive to dengue mosquito breeding. However, it is puzzling that against such a backdrop that dengue breeding sites are being crated in name of city beautification.

The new water feature at the roundabout at the end of Rajakeeya Mawatha, bordering Philip Gunawardene Mawatha, Colombo 07 is a case in point. It is due to be opened tomorrow and the residents and other local businesses feel that it is bound to make a contribution to the increasing incidence of dengue in the area.

Residents say that the roundabout, which has been in existence for over 100 years, had simple landscaping which reflected the elegance of the colonial structures of the area. It was not properly managed.

The old roundabout has got a facelift. "The result, with millions being spent, was an aesthetic disaster," said resident, Mrs. C.H. de Saram. A a 15-year-old student has already died of dengue in the area. In addition there are two big schools in the vicinity namely, Royal College and Stafford College. Many children would be affected if the mosquito density increases, Saram says . Residents complain that the mosquito density is already quite high leading to high incidence of epidemics such as dengue and chickengunya. They fear that any further increase in dengue would lead to more deaths.

"We are the stakeholders where projects in our neighbourhood which is designated as ‘high residential are concerned’ and we pay high rates for our properties," said de Saram. Most people in this area have been infected with dengue more than once.

Residents question the wisdom of using water features in landscaping in an area the prevalence of dengue is very hight.

Shallow water (less than two feet) can increase mosquito breeding significantly, which is a public health issue. The mosquito eggs attach themselves to any receptacle with clean water even while the water is being circulated. A water feature in the landscape will invariable attract adult mosquitoes.

Another resident said alterations to the roundabout reflect bad taste and poor judgment that so much money had been wasted at a time when there are many other matters that require urgent attention such as garbage disposal.


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