Rats! Mumbaikars and BMC at odds over rodent menace

Feb 05, 2015, 13:20 IST | Laxman Singh

While the BMC is convinced it is doing a good job of ridding Mumbai of rats, citizens argue that the city is still overrun, and the civic body’s efforts are falling short

If the BMC data is to be believed, the civic body’s night rat killers (NRKs) killed over 764 rats per day last year. While this may sound like a lot, citizens have pointed out that it’s a far smaller count than 2013’s (almost 907 each day), indicating poorer effort in dealing with the rodent menace.

An NRK counts the number of rats he has killed. Rat killers are supposed to kill a minimum of 30 rats for every night of work
An NRK counts the number of rats he has killed. Rat killers are supposed to kill a minimum of 30 rats for every night of work

The BMC, on the other hand, claims it is dealing with the problem so well that there are now fewer rats to kill, leading to the lower numbers. To some, this might seem like a case of the glass being half-empty or half-full, but Mumbaikars feel that the city particularly Mahim is overrun with rats.

These pests then damage footpaths, buildings and other properties by burrowing into them. The BMC’s Insecticide department currently has 44 NRKs, who kill rats using either poison or a stick. In 2014, the department killed 2.79 lakh rats, which is 52,000 less than the 3.31 lakh killed in 2013.

According to Farookhque Dhala, a Mahim resident, not only is the department’s technique ineffective, as the poison gets washed away in the monsoon, there aren’t enough rat killers to do the job either. He said, “After repeated complaints to the BMC, finally some NRKs arrived and started killing the rats, but there is still not enough effort, because the civic body doesn’t have enough staff.

In G/north (Mahim, Dadar) ward there are two posts for NRKs, but one post is always vacant. How can a single person tackle such a huge ward?” Dhala and a few other residents of the Mahim Dargah area met the civic health committee chairperson, Geeta Gawli, to discuss the issue on Monday afternoon.

They demanded that the corporation increase the number of night rat killers and ensure that regular visits are made to areas badly affected by rats. Gawli assured them that action would be taken soon.

No NRKs in suburbs
While the BMC’s 44 NRKs keep the rat menace in check in the island city, the suburbs are still waiting for NRKs to be appointed. The proposal to appoint 84 rat killers in the western (Bandra to Dahisar) and eastern (Kurla to Mulund) suburbs has been pending for the past three years.

Official speak
BMC’s insecticide officer, Rajan Naringrekar said, “How can we say that the numbers have come down because of slow response? The decrease in the number of rats killed is because our NRKs had already killed several rats in the past, which could have controlled their breeding. This might have reduced the number of rats.” He added, “There is a proposal to appoint new NRKs for the suburbs, which is expected to get the nod soon.”


Farookhque Dhala,a Mahim resident
We are facing the rat menace here and, despite several complaints, we have been struggling to get a response from the authorities

Abhay Singh, a resident of Kalbadevi
If you visit our streets at night, around 1 am, you will find hundreds of rats roaming about. We are afraid of getting bitten by them

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