Chennai Corporation launched an intensive programme to curb the rat and dog menace on Wednesday in the city, after being pulled up by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa. A total of 240 teams, including sanitary officers, health and food safety officials, inspected hospitals, marketplaces, bus stands and godowns in the city.
According to the civic body officials, this intensive programme of eliminating rodents would continue for the next 15 days. Between Tuesday and Wednesday, 27 dogs were rounded up from the Kasturba Gandhi Hospital for Women and Children in Triplicane where the body of 12-day-old infant was found with injuries on her face on Monday. The pre-term baby had been declared dead by hospital authorities on Sunday evening and the body had been stored in a nearby room instead of being handed over to the family. The next morning, the family, hailing from the nearby Ayodhya Nagar slum, refused to take possession of the body as a portion of the face was damaged.
The family and other frequent visitors to the hospital said that dogs and cats had a free run at the hospital. Chief Minister Jayalalithaa held a meeting on Tuesday and issued a directive to the Chennai Corporation and other local bodies in the State to launch a cleaning programme at hospitals.
Corporation officials said they conduct such cleaning drives regularly but this time, a special intensive programme has been taken up. The officials are using pesticides like Ratol, which is injected in tomatoes or such food to attract the rats. The insecticide acts on the animal’s hepatic systemand damages its renal functioning. On Wednesday, officials were seen identifying rat burrows in the Government Kilpauk Hospital’s premises.
Hospital authorities blamed rat infestation on the poor hygiene practices of the visitors. Animals and rodents are attracted to leftovers and improperly discarded food, a health official said. On Wednesday, discarded food was seen near the neonatal ward of Kilpauk Hospital. Needless to say, there were also several rat burrows. Corporation officials said “rat fall” – the head count of rats killed – would be available around 11 a.m. on Thursday. Other animals would be subjected to the approved birth control programme and would not be killed.