There is a reason why people are dying in Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh

There are heaps of garbage everywhere, even near handpumps. The drains are open and full of filth. The health department hasn’t bothered to spray mosquito repellents in months

Chandrakant MishraChandrakant Mishra   30 Aug 2019 11:32 AM GMT

There is a reason why people are dying in Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh

When Ashish Kumar, 22, got a high fever, his family members immediately took him to a medical camp that was organised in his village. When the doctors confirmed Ashish had Malaria, his family got worried because two people had lost their lives because of an unknown fever in his village in the past one month.

Ashish lives in Pairua village in Gondlamau block in Uttar Pradesh's Sitapur district, which is barely 80 kms from the state capital Lucknow. In the past one month, more than 19 people have died in the nearby villages where Ashish lives. More than 50 people have died in Pairua village alone.

While 30 people have died in Sitapur district, around 2,000 are suffering from this unknown fever. Last year too 50 people died due to an unknown fever in Gondlamau block in Sitapur district.

The primary reason behind this unknown fever is the unhygienic conditions in which these villagers live.

When asked what leads to people dying in these villages soon after the monsoon, Dr Dheeraj Mishra, health officer at Gondlamau primary health centre, said: "19 people have died in the past one month. Around 100 are suffering from Malaria, while 35 have been diagnosed with Typhoid. These villages are in bad condition. Mosquitoes and heaps of garbage are the main reasons behind these deaths."

People have been dying in Gondlamau block for the past three years. When the Gaon Connection team visited these villages, there were heaps of garbage everywhere, even near the handpumps. The drains were overflowing and full of filth.

"Most of the patients are coming from these villages. Mosquitoes and dirty water lead to diseases like Malaria and Typhoid," said Dr Mishra.

According to a report published by the Central government, in 2014, around 11.2 lakh people died due to Malaria. In 2015, this number stood at around 10 lakh, but in 2016 it again went up and touched 11 lakh.

Villagers have been complaining to the authorities about the unhygienic condition prevailing in their villages, but no one comes to clean up. "We wrote many letters to the authorities. These days we are even sending daily reports to the government, but nothing happens after that," said Dr Mishra.

Saroj Devi, 45, lives in Saidapur village, which is next to Pairua village. "It's been a week that my son is unwell. We got medicines from the government hospital, but they are not working. We live in unhygienic condition. No one comes to pick the garbage up or to spray mosquito repellents," she said.

Clearly, the cleaners have not been doing their job, though the government pays them Rs 22,000. Not just that, every gram panchayat gets Rs 10,000 and a committee is responsible to clean all the villages before the arrival of monsoon.

Ram Vilas, a resident of Pairua village, blamed the village head Sushil Kumar for the deaths occurring in his village. "We requested him many times, but he is not bothered. He does not even live here. He lives in Sitapur and visits once or twice a month."

Dr Vikas Singhal from the health and family welfare department in Lucknow visited these villages and reprimanded the village heads for not getting the villages cleaned. Dr SK Kumar, a doctor, informed, "Most of the villages are dirty. The cleaners and health workers have been asked to get the work done."

In 2018, when Gaon Connection had visited Sitapur after many people had died in Gondlamau block, Dr Rajkumar Nayyar, the chief medical officer who was visiting, has pointed out that the villagers were living in unhygienic conditions.

One year later, in 2019, the situation hadn't changed. When he visited the villages this year, he said: "Many people are falling ill. We met many patients who have Malaria. There are many patients who are suffering from unknown fever. We are spraying mosquito repellents in these villages. We are requesting these villagers to keep their surroundings clean. No one has died of Malaria as yet."

It's third year in a row that people are dying in Sitapur, just 70 kms from Uttar Pradesh's capital Lucknow. None of the authorities visited these villages last year after 19 people had died.

Inder Narayan Singh, district Panchayati Raj officer, said: "Many village heads are not bothered about maintaining cleanliness. We are making teams and visiting these villages. We are pulling up those village heads who are not working."

Kesan, who lived in Pairua village, was the only earning member in his family. He died on August 6 due to an unknown fever. He is survived by his wife and three children. His eldest daughter Pinki, 12, said while holding her father's passport size photo in her hand: "He suddenly got a fever and was breathless. We took him to Sitapur. They asked us to take him to Lucknow, but he died on the way. I don't think I would be attending school anymore. I will have to stay back and do household work."

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