An intensive drive to control mosquito population will begin in the city shortly.

The Kochi Corporation, which purchased 25 hand-held fogging machines recently, will soon place orders for another batch of 25 machines. The training for 25 anti-mosquito workers has been completed and they will be deployed in the central zone of the Kochi Corporation. The next training for another batch of 25 workers will begin soon. These workers will be used for pest control operations in West Kochi area, said T. K. Ashraf, chairman of the Health Standing Committee of the Kochi Corporation.

Each fogging machine would cost Rs. 28,300 and can be operated using petrol, electricity or battery. The corporation has paid Rs. 7 lakh for the purchase of machines. The next batch of machines will be purchased using funds from the People's Plan Programme. Government Engineering College, Thrissur, has certified the efficiency of the machines. The agency, which supplied the machines, has also offered to carry out free maintenance of the machines for two years.

The anti-mosquito drive has been slowed down in the city following the heavy rain. Fogging during rainy season will not deliver desired results. The draining of flood water through canals has prevented the completion of the life cycle of mosquito larvae. The cleaning and de-silting of some of the major canals in West Kochi area has resulted in saline water entering the drains, thus reducing the possibility of spread of mosquitoes. Once the rain subsides, the drive will be launched, he said.

Confederation of Real Estate Developers' Association India, Kochi branch, has come forward to support the drive. They have offered masks, helmets, boots and gloves for the anti-mosquito workers. These support equipment for the workers are expected to reach the Kochi Corporation next week. The corporation will provide the workers' uniforms, Mr. Asharaf said.

One of the advantages of the hand-held machine is that it can be used in areas inaccessible by vehicles. Currently, the vehicle-mounted fogging machines move along only through the main roads. They also incur a huge expense for the civic authorities.

The civic body has also procured 50,000 nylon nets for covering the air pipes of sanitary toilets.

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