WANT TO make a fast buck in Mumbai? Kill rats. Yes, rats. Stung by the death of 30 persons of leptospirosis in and around Mumbai, the Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation has announced a scheme for public: Kill a rat and get paid Rs 5 for it.
The only rider is that a minimum of five dead rats must be “submitted “to the BMC at a time. The going rate per dead rat until last week was between 80 paise and Re 1.
The BMC is to receive dead rats from the public at its local offices all over Mumbai. The slain rodents will then be incinerated near Haffkine Institute in Parel (Central Mumbai). (It is another matter that the incinerator is not working and BMC officials have been burying the dead rats in the near by public ground).
Leptospirosis is spread through rodent urine. The disease could be contracted through cuts or bruises and many of the patients currently being treated in hospital here are believed to have acquired it while wading through the city’s filthy, waterlogged streets.
Most of the cases of leptospirosis have been reported from far-flung Kalyan, Mira Road, Nalla Sopara, Bhayandar, Ulhasnagar, Bhiwandi and Dombivali. In Mumbai city alone, it has claimed six lives. In all, 144 cases have been detected so far.
Mrs. Khanolkar of the BMC’s insecticide department said that there are 44 permanently employed rat catches for Mumbai city alone. 137 others arrange for rattraps, make house calls and concoct the poison to get ride of the rodents in the city.
“Each employee has a target of atleast 25 rats per day. If he brings 25 dead rats, we pay him a full day’s salary”, Mrs. Khanolkar said. But do the rat catchers management to meet their targets every day, day after day? “Yes. Very rarely do they bring in fewer that 25 dead rats,” she said.
The humble rat is the mythical vehicle of Lord Ganesh, Maharashtra’s most popular deity. During the 11-day Ganesh festival, the number of rats killed daily goes down drastically.
So will Mumbaikars bite the bait and kill rats as a part time vocation? “Cleanliness starts at home. It is up to individual to keep the area clean. We have a limited staff and limited resources. It is up to the public to pitch in and help”, sighs Mrs. Khanolkar.
By Ketan Narottam Tanna