Calcutta's sorrow

There is growing evidence that the recent outbreak of the malaria (plasmodium falciparum) epidemic in Calcutta is related to the clogged drainage system of the city. And this is because the state government has been reclaiming the East Calcutta Wetlands since the '60s. Some citizens, at the initiative of the renowned geologist and senior environmentalist, Subrata Sinha, are probing the epidemic.

Sinha says that most of the malaria cases come from old settlements - Calcutta's core corporaiion area - where water stagnates after heavy showers. "These areas are in the middle of Calcutta's saucer and are serviced by a century-old, brick sewer lines, which have been for long in a state of disrepair. Even at the height of summers, these are almost clogged,- he says. Comparatively, new settlement areas like Jadavpur and Tollygunge do not face such dire conditions.