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Suburbs demand rat killers, BMC moves at a snail's pace

The process of recruiting rat killers for the suburbs, where the rodent population is growing unchecked, has made little progress since the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) received a communication from the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), New Delhi, asking it not to employ cruel means of eliminating the creatures.

The island city has 44 night rat killers, whereas the suburbs have none. Fed up with the rodent menace, corporators from both the western and the eastern suburbs have for long demanded the appointment of rat killers for the suburbs.


The city’s Pied Pipers: According to the Animal Welfare Board of India, BMC’s rat killers use inhumane ways of killing the rodents. File Pic

Following the demand from corporators of all parties, the civic body even started the process of recruiting 90 rat killers for the suburban areas, from Bandra to Dahisar in the western suburbs and Kurla to Mulund in the eastern.

But since May, the process has slowed down as the AWBI wrote to the BMC asking it to use traps to capture the rats and outlaw the practice of clubbing the rodents to death.

“Because of AWBI letter to the BMC, the process has been delayed, otherwise we would have completed the recruitment by now,” a senior official from the BMC health department said on condition of anonymity. “AWBI may stay the recruitment if it gets to know about it.”

The official said the file concerned was currently with the labour department.

Animal board says
The AWBI said that it was only against inhuman methods of killing rats and that it had cleared the recruitment process of the BMC. “We wrote about the process of killing of rats and that it should be changed; we don’t have an objection to the recruitment of rat killers,” AWBI assistant secretary S Vinod Kumar said.  “The board had written to the BMC to say that rats should be captured in traps and euthanized to contain leptospirosis, and not killed by clubbing them.” 

Corporators speak
Anuradha Pednekar, former health committee chairperson and a member of the Standing Committee, said follow-up was being done with the administration to appoint rat killers in the suburbs.  “Kurla would easily be the worst affected area. I will raise the demand in the Standing Committee meeting about recruiting rat killers as soon as possible,” Pednekar said. Nationalist Congress Party leader Dhananjay Pisal said he was also fed up with the rodent problem in Vikhroli, which is his area.  “If the BMC fails to fill the posts of rat killers soon, we will strongly agitate against the administration,” Pisal said.

Former corporator Ravindra Pawar, who is from Chembur and had demanded the appointment of rat killers in the suburbs during his terms from 1985 to 2002, said: “We have been demanding the appointment of rat killers in the suburbs since long. I think the BMC will not wake up to the problem till some disease spreads in the city.” 

In the island city
Number of night
rat killers: 44
Rats killed by BMC
every year: 2 lakh
Monthly salary of night
rat killer: Rs 5,000
Commission for rat killer: 25 paise on each rat after the target of 30 rats is achieved in a night 

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