Mumbai: Killed 9.18 lakh rats in two years, claims BMC
This with only 14 of city's 24 wards having any rat-killing operations
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has claimed to have eliminated a record 9.18 lakh rats in the past two years. This, when 10 out of the city's 24 wards, have had no rat-killing agencies willing to take up the job.
According to the civic body, it collectively killed 4.59 lakh rats in 2016 and 2017, half of the number it achieved in 2018 and 2019. The Insecticide Department of the BMC is tasked with controlling rat population as they can spread Leptospirosis and plague. The department used to have its own Night Rat Killers (NRK) but their operation was reduced due to a staff crunch.
In 2018, the number reached 4,59,006. This year, between January and November, 4,58,980 rats were killed. This includes rats killed by agencies and by BMC staff. "Our main aim is to keep the number of rats limited. If people cooperate with us and deny entry, food, and shelter to rats, culling will have a better impact," said Rajan Naringrekar, BMC's Insecticide Officer.
Insecticide officers at every ward are responsible for counting killed rats
The BMC appointed private agencies on a contract basis in six wards in 2017 for 11 months. The number increased to nine in 2018 and 14 in 2019. "Rats are killed after midnight when there is absolute darkness and silence. Attracted by the light of a torch, when they come out, they are struck with a stick. Suburbs are usually well lit at night, which makes hunting difficult. Hence, agencies are not willing to work in the suburbs," said Naringrekar.
In wards where agencies did not come forward, BMC's own staff conducts limited operations. Currently, all eastern suburbs, South Mumbai and Bandra, Khar and Santacruz have private agencies. Whereas, Bhendi Bazar, Girgaum and Byculla and suburbs between Vile Parle and Dahisar do not have private agencies.
Counting the dead
Every morning, the insecticide officer of each ward inspects and counts the rats killed that night. Only fresh carcasses are accepted and included in the statistics. Although the menace spread all over the city, a majority of the agencies operated in South Mumbai. The BMC offered first R10, then R18 per dead rat but failed to get a good response for all wards.
While BMC does not have an official count of the rats in Mumbai, it has asked contractors and rat catchers to remain quiet about the killings as the Animal Welfare Board of India, in 2012, had asked the BMC to adopt a more humane approach and euthanise them.
"We prefer not to speak much on the issue. But it is important to control the rat population and the spread of diseases as we live in a cluttered city. Some dead rats are randomly tested for plague. All carcasses are disposed of at the city's dumping ground," Naringrekar told mid-day.
"Rats created a major nuisance in our area. I, along with another resident Farooque Dhala, used to go with rat killers to monitor their work. They hunt between 1 am and 7 am," Irfan Machiwala, a Mahim resident, said.
Average no. of rats killed per day in 2016 and 2017
Average no. of rats killed per day in 2018 and 2019
In theory, a rat can breed throughout the year, with a female capable of having a litter of 10–12 every three to four weeks. The gestation period is only 21 days. They reach sexual maturity in about five weeks. As such, a pair of rats can produce up to 15,000 pups in a year.
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