Tonnes of DDT goes to waste in Bihar

Staff Writers | 31 Dec 2005
Black fever or kala azar is among the biggest public health challenges in Bihar.

Caused by parasites spread by sand flies, the disease has claimed 118 lives in the state.

But there is evidence that the threat posed by the dreaded disease is not quite being taken seriously by the state.

Letters sent by district malaria officers to the state health society document how huge quantities of DDT supplied to Bihar by the Centre for combating malaria and kala azar never got sprayed.

Of the 80,000 kg of DDT that Saharsa district received, only 7,900 kg was used. Along with stocks from 2004, now 1,32,000 kg of DDT has piled up and all of it has expired.

Madhubani has reported almost 1,16,000 kg DDT lost and Hajipur 1,45,000 kg.

Expiry date

Figures from 11 districts add up to 470 metric tonnes, which means DDT worth more than Rs 6 crore has now expired.

When kala azar had killed more than 400 people in Bihar in 2000, the state government had accused the Centre of not supplying enough DDT.

But now 2000 metric tonnes of unused DDT has piled up in warehouses. Samples of the DDT that has expired are being sent to New Delhi for testing and officials are hoping that not all is lost.

"It's a stable compound, but while testing, often it's found that potency may have reduced," said Dr CB Singh, Chief Malaria Officer.

What makes the current wastage more ironic is the fact that its in the name of poor patients that DDT, despite being banned in many countries, has been sanctioned for use in India.