Even for rats, living in cantonment could cost dearly

Cantt authorities announce Rs300 while municipality Rs25 for catching each rodent alive

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Catching and killing rats has become a top priority for the municipal authorities in the city in the wake of a number of cases of people bitten by rats.

The District Council Peshawar reacted first by announcing a reward of Rs25 each for anyone able to catch a rat alive. The Cantonment Board Peshawar went a step further by raising the reward money to Rs300 per catch. Its Vice-President Waris Khan Afridi said the Cantonment Board wanted to kill the captured rats with chemicals and then dispose them of properly.

The areas falling in the Cantonment Board Peshawar are relatively clean and spacious unlike the crowded parts of the old city that are served by the Peshawar Municipal Corporation or the villages located in the Peshawar district. There are obviously more rats in the old city than in the army-run Cantonment Board.

The Water and Sanitation Services (WSSP), a company set up by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led provincial government to clean and beautify Peshawar and provide safe drinking water to citizens, had hired a rat-catcher last year to rid the city of the large number of rats stalking the bazaars, offices and homes.

When approached. WSSP’s general manager operations, Nasir Ghafoor Khan, said the decision to hire Naseer, the rat-catcher, on work-charge basis last year has shown positive results as one single, three-day operation to fight rats led to the killing of about 1,500 rats. “We arrived at this figure through the count carried out by the residents and our staff. There may be many other rats that were killed but couldn’t be recovered and counted,” he added.

Nasir Ghafoor said the idea to hire the rat-catcher emerged from a TV channel story that showed this man going after the rats, particularly those converging on dustbins in search of leftover food. “Naseer was a taxi-driver but he and his son also did rat fighting voluntarily in their spare time and sometimes got paid by grateful residents for ridding them of rats,” he recalled.

He said WSSP had no plans to announce monetary reward for those able to catch rats alive. “We do our rat killing work on a regular basis. Nowadays we have expedited our campaign to kill rats,” he remarked.

A three-year old girl bitten by a rat on her finger has become the latest victim of the rampaging rats in Peshawar. Such incidents prompted the municipal authorities to go after the rats and motivate residents also to take part in rat fighting through the promise of reward money.

It is felt one of the reasons for the increase in population of rats in Peshawar is the construction boom and conversion of agricultural land into housing projects as the rats unable to find food in the fields now sneak into populated areas and houses to search for something to eat.Someone quipped that head-money has been announced for the rats, but it remains to be seen if this would lure the people.

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