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Control the pest control business

Who needs an expert when you can get an amateur to do things for a lower price? That question cropped up in our minds not long after the deaths of Versova siblings Rehab and Rameez Chougle. We broke that story and compelled the police to initiate a thorough investigation into how those teenagers lost their lives. Yesterday, according to a report released by experts, we were told that the deaths were unnatural. Apparently, an unlicensed pest control technician was to blame.

The siblings inhaled toxic gases that simply were too dangerous to be used indoors. Following further investigations by our reporters, we found out that the Indian Pest Control Association had decided to conduct drives to educate citizens about correct procedures. We also stumbled upon a shocking statistic — over 1,000 pest control companies in Mumbai are illegal.

We found highly toxic chemicals such as Aluminum Phosphide available in the market for just Rs 300 per kilogram. Another toxin called DDVP is available at Rs 450 per litre. Neither is meant for pest control inside homes. Both are used by people unauthorised to do so.

The saddest thing is we have laws in place to prevent situations like these from arising, but none of these are ever backed by political will. They are never given teeth to enforce them. Chemists doling out drugs over the counter, for instance, are supposed to have degrees in pharmacy. How many of the assistants at your local chemist boast that qualification?

It is as easy to buy illegal drugs over the counter as it is for one to purchase acid at any number of stores. All one needs to know is where to look. It is this lackadaisical attitude that enables so many to get away with murder. Literally. Will corrective measures ever be introduced?

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