The Railways is at war, and the baddies in this conflict are rats and cockroaches.
As part of a critical operation to make railway coaches more hygienic, railway employees — armed with sticks, torches and magnifying glasses — are being pressed into service in locomotive yards. The crack units have been entrusted with the task of plugging cracks and crevices that double up as homes for rodents and winged pests. Forensic experts have been requisitioned to flush the uninvited “refugees” out with aluminum phosphide, fumigant tablets and toxin-laced goodies.
Passenger coaches, on the other hand, are being fitted with glue boards that trap rats, allowing staffers to unceremoniously end their existence.
This initiative of the Railways stems out of recent recommendations of a departmental committee, heavily inspired by a 2010 policy on 'Prevention and control of pests and rodents in trains'.
HT had earlier reported that rodents, spiders and cockroaches were having a free run in railway coaches — much to the discomfort of everybody concerned. “But now we are all set to tackle this problem. The campaign will be launched within a week. We have already got the rats on the run,” a ministry official said.
However, the officials know that the war is far from over. Bracing itself for a bitter, drawn-out campaign, the Railways has decided to bolster its ranks by roping in private players. Consequently, "the model conditions of contracts" for engaging private players through the Public Private Partnership mode have been firmed up. "Some contracts have been signed, and there are many more in the pipeline," an official said.
According to the terms of the agreement, private pest control operators have to obtain the approval of plant protection officers of state agriculture departments, or the Faridabad-based Central Integrated Pest Management Centre.