Friday, June 18, 2021
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Killing rats is not enough to end rat menace

Rats scooting around drains, lanes, and households is a common sight in India. Even government offices are not immune to the epidemic. But when we talk about high-tech infrastructure of secretariat, rat nuisance can be a plum scam as there rats are actually not visible in population but the problem remains. Lately, over 3,00,000 rats were supposed to be killed in the headquarters of one of the country’s richest states, but no one knows how and where they were taken to. When the news came out, the senior legislator smelt a rat in the contract given to clear out the menace. A senior leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party, which rules the western Indian state of Maharashtra, has revealed that a staggering 3,19,400 rats were cleared out last year from the Mantralaya, the state’s secretariat in Mumbai. BJP government responded to a Right to Information (RTI) query saying that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s government had invited bids from companies to kill the rats. Khadse alleged that the contractor that won the bid later claimed to have removed all the rats in just seven days, instead of the several months allotted. It means that the contractor killed 45,628.57 rats a day and 31.68 rats every minute! Their weight was around 9,125.71 kg and every day one truck was required to take dead rats out of Mantralaya. But it is not known where they were disposed of. It is very surprising that this company killed over 300,000 rats in just seven days while the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (Mumbai’s civic body) took two years to kill 600,000 rats. The government had paid the company Rs 1.5 per rat and this entire episode is sniffing a large-scale scam.

Besides rats, rodent urine leaking from the ceiling, decades-old computer and technology systems, old paper piles and rotten furniture can be found everywhere in Mantralaya. The signs of wear and tear in the state government secretariat seem to be cropping up everywhere.

Rats are common in Indian cities and metropolises and the first priority to prevent rat infestation is the proper maintenance of the premises. Young rats can get through holes that are less than 1 cm in diameter. So it is important to seal any holes or fit bristle strip around doors, walls or inner side of the rooms. In outdoor areas, government needs to ensure that waste materials are kept in closed bins. If you go to canteen side or the remote areas of Mantralaya, you will witness open dustbins with lots of wasted food. Rats can come up from sewers through broken pipes. Hence, it is important to ensure that all pipe-work is in proper order. The toilets stink, the pipe lines are broken, the window panels are open — perhaps, government needs to pay more attention to fix these issues than killing rats.

If such serious concerns are not treated immediately, a rat swarm can quickly take hold of your premise. Using rat poison baits inside premises creates mess; if rats die in hidden places, it creates foul smell and attracts other pests such as flies. Already the Mantralaya cafeteria is full of flies and cockroaches running over the food that apparently come from the back area of the cafeteria where the food is prepped and cooked. The entire Mantralaya is surrounded by eateries. They need a Pied Piper. Data from Corporation of Mumbai shows that the city has a serious rodent problem; with poor hygiene, improper garbage disposal and lack of a proper pest control system, rats breed in large numbers. The Corporation’s health department killed many rats in the past few years but still that is not enough. All over Mumbai, from footpaths to markets and courts to government offices, roadside stalls to hospitals and schools, rats are the biggest challenges. Experts reckon that the number of rodents exterminated account for a small fraction of the city’s actual rat population. It is of concern that the Corporation has not conducted any study that would allow it to identify the localities with a serious proliferation of rodents. The vermin eat food grains, gnaw at electrical circuits and even damage buildings. BMC should consider the mass extermination of rats. Mumbai has expanded, but it lacks basic infrastructure to ensure that it stays clean. There are few dustbins in public places and garbage collection is not efficient in many areas. There has been an increase in rats in several parts of the city but the corruption is a bigger challenge than the rats, whatever contracts are given or efforts are made by funds allotment, those funds never get utilised for the assigned purpose; the substandard methods used are not sufficient to get rid of rats and relevant dangers.

Mumbai is surrounded by its uncleared garbage and open meat stalls. All the tax we pay and all the revenue generated by the state government go into wrong hands and hence, the whole city suffers. This election is a chance to give all the corrupt forces a fitting reply. We have tried that also in 2014, by buying Swachh Bharat Abhiyan claims. We have also paid tax towards the same. Alas! My fellow countrymen fall prey to these cunning people who rule the country based on their personal motives and goals. Coming back to the rats, this would be one of the scams by BJP in the state. Let’s see how people are going to react to it in 2019.

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Dr. Vaidehi Taman
Dr. Vaidehi is an Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and an Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. Since 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond the news (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which she caters for her sister-concern Kaizen-India Infosec Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

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