All these years, I was thinking that spraying insecticide or bordering (!) the roads with DDT (White powder), whenever a minister or some VIP was planning to visit the area, was the only job of Corporation for eradicating the 'mosquito menace'! This is news to me! And I was astonished to know that the name of the post of these people is 'Insect Collectors'!
Now, over to the The Hindu article:
Early in the morning, 57-year-old G. Mohan quietly walks along the banks of the Buckingham Canal in Kotturpuram and enters a house nearby. Fifteen minutes later; he emerges successful from the house with live mosquitoes confined to a test tube.
“I am one of the few people collecting mosquitoes to make a living. I find it exciting,” beams, Mr. Mohan, who is one of the “insect collectors” employed by the Chennai Corporation. A suction tube, torchlight and test tube are what he carries with him for accomplishing his task. The mosquitoes are collected for calculating the adult mosquito density in all the 10 zones of the Corporation, he says.“After I spot a mosquito at rest using torchlight, I suck air through the suction tube by placing it close to the mosquito. The mosquito that is trapped in the small net in the suction tube is then transferred to a test tube and sealed with cotton to keep it alive for lab testing,” says Mr.Mohan, who has been in the job for over three decades.
Workers like him also collect mosquito larvae for larval density calculation. The data complied at the Corporation laboratories by entomologists using their assistance remains crucial in tackling the vector borne diseases such as malaria, dengue, chikungunya and filaria by the civic body.
For instance, if the protozoan parasite Plasmodium falciparum is reported in a locality, the civic body will spray insecticide on war-footing in the locality as it is the most dangerous of malaria infections with the highest rates of complications and mortality.
Thus the lab study of mosquitoes throws light on the areas likely to be affected by an outbreak of the disease and helps in preventive measures by the Chennai Corporation.
“Areas such as George Town have a large number of closed godowns to which we have no access. This makes the task of collection of mosquitoes in the area tougher. Water collected in this area is breeding source of mosquitoes. So relatively more number of cases is reported here,” says he says.
Our observation during the course of our duty is that there is lack of awareness among residents about their role in control of vector-borne diseases, says Mr. Vijayarajan.
Now, this is very true, in our area too!
This is the photograph of a so-called 'storm water drain', in our road! This is near the gate of our neighbour's house!
This is constructed by the local Panchayat (we live in the outskirts of Chennai, which is on the IT Highway and full of IT companies now!) to collect excess rainwater on the roads and keep them from flooding. We don't have a drainage connection - which is promised to happen in a year or two! So most of the residents have let their waste water and septic tank water also (in some houses) into this 'drainage'! This was constructed just around 4-5 months back. In many areas, the Panchayats of different areas, have covered the 'drainage' with concrete slabs. Our Panchayat has 'forgotten' to cover the drainage. We have covered it in front of our house.
The government must have allotted money to cover this ditch but everybody in our country need some 'policing' for every job otherwise the money goes 'swaahaaa'! And as it is common practice here, every shop on the road and residents throw the plastic bags and garbage on the road and they land in the open ditch or fly all over the road.
And then, we complain about the huge 'chopper-like' mosquitoes!
We get different types of mosquitoes, some are huge in size and easy to hit, others are tiny but their bites, itch for a long time. I am allergic to mosquito repellents. So the best weapon for me is this:
In this battery-operated bat, we have to press the red button in the handle and hit the insect. A mild current hits the insect and it gets burnt (with a slight smell!). I am the 'Sachin Tendulkar' (poor Sachin, sorry!), of our house, and have the highest record of mosquito hits! This is the only method we use, to keep them away, at our house now.
Our house is surrounded by flowering plants and the mosquitoes enjoy hatching on them too! Our gardener sprays some pesticide on all the plants once in two months (I don't allow him to do it often because I am worried about hurting the butterflies visiting our garden). We have covered our windows with mosquito nets. Used neem oil diyas, placed camphor in a cup of water...nothing helps to stop the mosquitoes from invading our houses.
Our Panchayat has arranged door-to-door collection of garbage. The cart comes everyday and we are supposed to keep the garbage in two bags/baskets (they have given us green and red waste baskets - for bio-degradable and non-bio degradable wastes) and hand them over to them. We have to pay a meagre Rs.20 and some houses do not pay even this amount and throw the garbage at the street corners which are again collected by Panchayat lorry on alternate days, but by that time, the whole road is full of flying plastic bags.
Without the co-operation of us, general public, even god cannot save us from these dengue/malaria spreading insects.