Mosquito-controversy tees off at Golf Course

By Dhananjani Silva, Pix by M.A. Pushpa Kumara

Dengue has been in the news for more than six months with 190 dead and nearly 20,000 ill with this viral disease spread by a tiny mosquito.
The boundary of the Golf Course and (below) the waterway in question.

The authorities and the public have been trading charges about who is to blame for the epidemic, with fingers being pointed at garbage heaps along roads and private home-owners being accused of turning their residences into mosquito-breeding grounds.The latest complaint comes from residents on Lake Drive, adjacent to the Royal Colombo Golf Club.

Mosquito-breeding grounds are aplenty in the Golf Club premises, complained one irate mother whose seven-year-old daughter had contracted dengue twice within three years.

“In 2006, my daughter got dengue fever. Yet, we were not sure how she got it and thought it could be from school. But when she got dengue once again in 2009, we realised that it was not from school, because at that time she was not going to the same school she attended earlier,” this mother explained, adding that it was at this point that she started worrying about her immediate environment.

“On complaining to the authorities, the Public Health Inspector visited the area and the neighbourhood was fumigated except the Golf Course area. I complained to the PHI about the waterway too because the only action we can take is to alert officials. Clearing of the waterway was not done in a proper manner. They just took the muck out of the waterway and even this has to be done on a regular basis,” she charged.

Earlier, the waterway was only a pond, according to her, but it was later dredged by the Golf Club to prevent the course from getting flooded and to ensure the pathway the members took to the course is free of water.

The other issue is the uncleared patch of land, she said. A mother of two small children, the resident says she is helpless about the indifferent attitude of everyone she speaks to: “What is the social responsibility of one of the oldest Golf Clubs in Asia?” she asks.
The view from the Golf Course.

When contacted by the Sunday Times Golf Club General Manager Neville Paul rejected the claims, stressing that it is the first time there has been a complaint of that nature. “We are maintaining the entire ground which spans 107 acres on a routine basis and there are even special teams appointed to look into each task,” he said.

“That is not the only waterway within these premises, we have 13 other similar ponds. There are trees right along the boundaries except in the area where there are fences. The trees actually prevent the balls from going into the houses,” he said.

The Narahenpita MOH office, when informed by the residents, did inspect the Golf Course premises on Tuesday and the area is fumigated on a regular basis, a spokesperson for the office said, adding that since there are fish in this pond, it could not become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

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