Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Chennai Corporation's Mosquito Collectors - Easy or Tough Job, I wonder!

G.Mohan, an insect collector of the Chennai Corporation.

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.

This looks so innocent now...'shot' at home by me, with the camera first and then the bat was used on it!

Sorry, I should have cut it short or made it into two posts...but don't know how!


varunavisworld said...

The last pic is wonderful sandhya and "camera first then the bat" -- super

Never heard of insect collector,this is new to me.

Here municipality wakes up when someone dies of dengue,a guy who lives near my house aged 30 with 2 kids died of dengue.The day his body was brought home we saw municipality vans spraying in the air to kill mosquitoes.But u know those people should come in the house and spray,what they do is they spray on the trees and mosquitoes to escape the spray they enter the houses which is not sprayed.The very purpose of spraying is wasted.

In my area we don't have much problem with the mosquitoes,thank god.Still i removed all the plants from the balcony and kept them on the terrace.

Sandhya said...

varunavisworld: Thanks, Saritha!

Insect collector word is new to me too!

This happens everywhere..they never come inside the compound also to spray, just spray on the sides of the road. We get the stink of the spray plus more mosquitoes inside the house!

You are lucky not to have mosquito problem, Saritha! It is too irritating.

Destination Infinity said...

So, the corporation works! :) Here in Coimbatore, we have huge baskets kept in various places, and those baskets are collected by lorries and replaced by empty ones - I am quite impressed with the ease of garbage collection these days, after having seen people collecting garbage with their hands many years back!

One All Out will keep the mosquitoes out no? (Some varieties are immune to this though, but most of them are kept out) Wny take all the strain with that bat?

Destination Infinity

Ashwini Sriram said...

This is such an interesting post maami! I did not know there were people who made a living out of collecting mosquitoes. People like G. Mohan really redefine the phrase "dignity of labour". Noble profession, this! :)

Very well written and funny! :)

radha said...

Never heard of the mosquito collector before! Good story. Glad you had a shot at the 'innocent mosquito', don't be taken in by deceptive looks!

Swaram said...

Wow! Very interesting post Sandhya. We are not aware of so many things and then we crib!

LOL @ first with the cam and then with the bat ;)

Renu said...

Even I cant tolerate mosquitoes, and for that i nevr keep any of my doors open even for a short period.
One thing that really irritates me is that in India people complain all the time but dont want to pay even a small amount towards civic amenities, may be we are so habitual of free things.

Bikramjit said...

i wud not want to do a job of insect colelctor..

and Sachin tendulkar .. yayyy here's wishing you all the best and may you score more centuries then the little master .. Chakk de fattteeeeeeeeeee :)

well rubbish hmm actually i must say its becoming a problem here in uk also now... seriously you see lot of rubbish...

Roshmi Sinha said...

One flew over the mosquito net :)

Sandhya said...

Destination Infinity: This method is followed in Chennai too, inside the city area. They seem to be doing their job very well, here too. But you can notice that the garbage is thrown by people into the box but most of the time it misses the target and falls outside the box. Again the same problem, they fly everywhere, the dogs spread them to the surrounding area, looking for food. They don't take the trouble of going near the garbage box and put their bag INTO it! I have seen it with my own eyes. Then, if the lorry doesn't come to pick up the garbage for 2 days, they will complain/write to the 'letter to the editor'!

I am allergic to 'all out' smell too! So at present, bat is the best weapon!

Ashwini Sriram: This is news to me too, Ashwini and thank you!

Radha: Yes, this is new to me too!

We have too, otherwise we are the sufferers!

Swaram: Thank you, Swaram! The Corporation is doing their best, here!

Renu: Yes, we want everything to be done by the government without an iota of co-operation from us!

Bikram: Thanks a ton, Bikram...we are so used to Punjabi words nowadays...Chak de fatte was used by Daler Mehandi, when he was a judge in Saregamapa super singers! Do you know...he is a very good classical singer too!

For us, UK was heaven in terms of cleanliness, Bikram, after seeing so much filth here!

Roshmi Sinha: Hahaha...what an idea Roshmiji!

sm said...

yes its team work
nice photo

wordsndreamz said...

Insect collectors! I had no idea that they existed! I think it just goes to show that our govts are doing things, but in any situation, there is only so much that a govt can do, if people don't participate..

If we insist on leaving garbage around, no matter how much research the insect collectors do, we will continue to have the mosquito menace.Every time we go to India, Poohi is the one who gets all upset. She attracts mosquitoes like nobody else.

R. Ramesh said...

awesome post ya...told u na...u have that reporter touch...

Sandhya said...

sm: Thank you, sm!

wordsndreamz: I was surprised to see this picture in the newspaper. I was not able to believe that they are following 'this' method, catching mosquitoes manually, via mouth! There must be some latest method.

Unless the people get involved in keeping the surroundings clean, the govt, or no one can save us from these insect hazards.

Poor Poohi...I have noticed that the insects go after small children, the most. My niece brings some cream from London, when she visits India with her son.

Ramesh: Maybe, thank you, Ramesh!

Talha said...

Mosquito Collector. Are you serious. I have never heard anything like that!!

Awesome post mate!!

writerzblock said...

OMG, never heard of such a thing!!! Poor guy, what a hazardous job he has!!!

deepsspeakingup said...

Very interesting post, Sandhya. Never knew about insect collectors.
Can imagine how tough his job must be though because of our callousness towards keeping our own surrounding clean.

We are ever so quick in hitting out at the govt for its inefficiencies, mishandling, etc. but we dont realize that govt can help only if we as people cooperate.

So you are the Sachin Tendulkar of your house..LOL!!

kanagu said...

thats real interesting news :) :) Corporation takes so much efforts.. commendable :)

Surely the people's co-operation is needed in any efforts taken by administration.. else it will turn futile :( :(

UmaS said...

This is interesting news....I think I missed that article.

Oh....what a problem with these mosquitoes...I close all the doors and windows by 5.30pm and open late at night...

Hema said...

True that we guys lack a lot of civic sense.. Here in ECR we dont have any carts that collect garbage, but we do have bins.. but the tragedy is people are not good enough to throw the bags in the bin.. they toss it just like that and it ends up on the ground.. and those stray dogs are another cause of the whole "Garbage on road" issue.. well the mosquito is quite less here.. but cant survive without all out.. Yes, here too the rain water drain is used as an open drainage by many people, i suspect even my landlord.. cant really find out.. anyways..

My new year resolution is not to throw any thing, even not a bit of paper on the road.. and to avoid using those terrible plastic bags.. if possible i will try recycling as much as possible!

Sandhya said...

Talha: Yes, this was news to me too, Talha and welcome to my blog! Thanks for the comment!

writerzblock: Yes, I pity him! But this person looks seriously and sincerely doing his job! We get the good result from him...did you read the article? They are able to locate the disease from the type of mosquitoes from the locality. Hats off to people like him.

deepsspeakingup: I never knew about this method, great, isn't it?

Thank you, this is the result of my allergy to all types of mosquito repellents!

kanagu: Yes, we have to help the govt. to take action without just criticising them.

UmaS: We have done that, closing the windows at 5p.m. etc. We are surrounded by plants and the ditch in front of our house and not able to contain mosquitoes in any way, Uma and the allergy problem is there for both of us. This is the only way we are able to shoo away the insects.

Hema: Welcome here, Hema!

Yes, our people do not help keep the area clean, in any way.

Yes, I too follow your method, Hema. I always keep a spare bag and bring back home all the eat raps without throwing them on the road.

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