As if the city is not plagued by enough problems, the killer rats have been spreading fear—and disease—in locals. Locals claim rodents the size of cats can be seen scurrying around the rural areas of New Peshawar such as Faqirabad, Hassan Garhi, Afghan Colony, Zaheerabad, Ashrafia Colony and Shahi Katta.
On March 18, even the Peshawar High Court sought a report on these vermin and the next date of hearing in this case is April 5.
Petitioner Dr Hussain Ahmed Haroon approached the court on March 11 and filed a writ petition against the government over the increasing number of rats. He filed the petition to find a solution to the ever present problem. The division bench of justices Yahya Afridi and Waqar Ahmed accepted the application and sought replies from the health department director, the K-P government and sanitation authorities.
The petitioner’s counsel, Advocate Saif Mohibullah Kakakhel, stated rodents were responsible for the death of a young boy. Attacks on adults were growing by the day and the relevant departments, he stated, have been negligent.
No prevention plan has been devised despite the death of a minor, said Kakakhel. The boy was bitten by a rat in Hassan Garhi on February 19, 2016.
The PHC ordered a detailed report on the emergence of this phenomenon. Advocate General Qaiser Ali Shah requested the bench for some time to speak to the relevant individuals. Subsequently, the bench asked him to file a report about the increasing rat population in the city and efforts made to tackle the situation.
Perhaps these ‘giant’ rats have surfaced due to housing schemes and other commercial activity on agricultural lands. As a result, their source of food has been eliminated and now they tend to eat anything that comes their way. They are mostly found in the areas where there is dampness and destroy cultivated crops in the fields.
Rats are omnivorous and normally thrive in the townships with filthy conditions and feed on residents’ undisposed trash. As far as humans are concerned, they are most probably bitten on the face, hands or feet when asleep. A rat bite can cause severe infections due to bacteria transmitted by the animal and even living in an area where rodents run around can cause Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome or rat bite fever.
Entomologist Dr Naseer Hussein believes rats found in the area are incapable of killing a human child if history is anything to go by. “Even if they bite someone, there is a 42-hour window to get injected against rabies.”
Published in The Express Tribune, March 26th, 2016.