A resident of Santacruz has claimed that his cat took ill after it ate food mixed with poison that civic officials left in the open parking area of his building to catch rats. The man who approached animal rights activists and filed a complaint with the local ward office of the BMC also claimed that a chicken that ate the deadly mixture had died.
“On Tuesday, while leaving my building I noticed a packet, left close to my bike, that contained a brown cake. A day later a chicken’s carcass was seen near the food packet and I found traces of the same food on my adopted cat’s mouth. I had to rush him to a veterinarian,” said Sameer Bankar, resident of Sujata Apartment in Kalina, Santacruz (East), on Thursday.
Mumbai’s civic authorities say they kill 10,000 to 15,000 rodents every month as part of their drive to check leptospirosis, a bacterial infection transmitted through the urine of rats, which has led to seven deaths this year. In October itself, 18 confirmed cases and 96 suspected cases of leptospirosis has been reported to the BMC. The civic body mixes rat poison with wheat flour and places balls of the deadly mix near drains and burrows.
Bankar said officials from the BMC’s insecticide department visit his colony twice a month to deploy rat poison. “I was lucky to save my cat as he had consumed only a small quantity and the veterinarian too confirmed that he was brought in at the right time,” said Bankar adding that he took photographs of the rat poison and shared it with animal activists.
Animal activists said they had noticed numerous instances where such packets had been left near unused stairs, parking spaces and corners of housing societies to kill rats. “If any other animal consumes the poison it is a violation of section 429 of the Indian Penal Code (mischief by killing or maiming cattle),” said Salim Charanya, head, Peace for Animal Welfare Association.
Meanwhile, BMC officials refuted the allegations. “These are baseless allegations against the corporation. All officers have been strictly informed for the past many years not to leave rat poison in the open and to only keep it in rat burrows,” said Rajan Nringrekar, insecticide officer, BMC. “Our attempt is to eliminate the rodent population completely to eradicate leptospirosis.”
He added that waste management was the need of the hour. “If citizens maintaining proper sanitation, rats will automatically not make homes,” he said.