BMC declares Praja Foundation persona non-grata, blacklists NGO for ‘misleading’ health report on Mumbai

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Monday declared the Praja Foundation persona non-grata, claiming that the NGO had 'misinterpreted and misrepresented' healthcare data in a report published by it on 12 July.

According to a report in The Hindu, a BMC executive health officer sent a letter to the NGO, saying the organisation "did not have basic knowledge of the national health programmes".

The report, titled 'The state of health of Mumbai', called the financial capital a 'decidedly unhealthy city' and said that "the authorities in charge of running the city had not managed to check the spread of various major diseases."

 BMC declares Praja Foundation persona non-grata, blacklists NGO for ‘misleading’ health report on Mumbai

File image of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). Wikimedia Commons

"The data collected by you under RTI Act from various public information officers of the public health department was used for the purpose of publication with the mala fide intention to malign the public body and mislead citizens at large," Shantaram Naik, the BMC executive health officer in charge, said, as per the Hindu report.

The report had cited the rising cases of dengue and tuberculosis, including drug-resistant strains of the latter, to highlight the healthcare crisis in the city. The letter claims that the NGO inflated the numbers in the report, thereby maligning the public body.

According to a report in Free Press Journal, Praja had claimed that tuberculosis patients were dropping out of government-run Directly Observed Treatment, Short Course (DOTS) programme.

The report claimed that the drop-outs had increased by 10 percent between 2012 and 2017. The foundation also said dengue deaths in Mumbai have doubled in the past five years with a 265 percent rise in dengue positive patients, as per the report.

"The default rate of TB cases is calculated for the year 2012 based on total cases while the calculation for 2016 is based on the total new cases as a result, the figure arrived is inflated and misguiding," mentioned the notice. "The NGO, while analysing dengue cases, indicated an increase in a number of cases over the years 2012-13 to 2016-17. However, they failed to consider if the cases were suspected or confirmed," it added.

"Hence, in view of all above, the MCGM has declared (your organisation) Praja Foundation, its representatives and employees as persona non-grata," Naik said, as per the Hindu report.

Responding to the BMC's allegations, Praja's managing trustee Nitai Mehta told Free Press Journal: "It is BMC’s data that we present to people to bring more transparency in the system. The fact is that the officials hate being shown a mirror and thus the reaction. We will respond to them in a suitable manner."

Praja defines itself as a non-partisan organisation that works towards enabling accountable governance. It undertakes extensive research and highlights civic issues to build the awareness of, and mobilise action by the government and elected representatives.

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Updated Date: Nov 22, 2017 15:39:03 IST