While rat burrows in public places, particularly parks, are a common eyesore, a former mayor believes the situation is “alarming’’: rats have built a vast underground network due to dumping of food waste into the sewer lines and the threat of disease looms large.
“All across the city, the number of rats living underground has shot up. These rodents are highly infectious and capable of spreading various diseases but currently there is no mechanism either with the municipal corporation or the UT Administration to curb their growing numbers. In fact, if the authorities start killing these rats by poisoning them, it could be more dangerous; in Surat in 1994, a large number of dead rats combined with other factors had led to an outbreak of plague,” said former mayor Harjinder Kaur.
Rat burrows can be seen in almost all city parks. Dev Prasad, who irons clothes in Sector 44 for a living, said, “The park near where I work is full of rats. Somebody recently filled up the burrows but the problem still persists. Rats even dug a hole in my wooden cart and sometimes, they also bite homeless people sleeping in the open at night.”
Anil Vohra, general secretary of the Chandigarh Beopar Mandal, said, “Sometimes we ask the administration to kill the rats, but in Sector 44 we hired a private person to poison the rats near the market area. However, their number keeps growing. Rats have a vast underground network of inter-connected tunnels.”
Kaur blamed the eateries, dhabas and food joints for the rising rat population. “They directly dump their food waste into the sewerage system which leads to breeding of rats. The corporation should frame bylaws, banning the eateries from dumping waste like this before the problem gets out of hand. I have been receiving numerous complaints.’’
However, K R Chirwatkar, in-charge of the corporation’s pest control wing, washed his hands of the problem, saying that control of rats was not his jurisdiction.