Over 300,000 rats were killed in an Indian government office. Now, a scam brews

Gotta’ catch them all.
Gotta’ catch them all.
Image: EPA/Vishal Olwe
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Rats scooting around drains, lanes, and households is a common sight in India. Even government offices for that matter are not immune to the pestilence. But over 300,000 rats in the headquarters of one of the country’s richest states? That’s something.

So what’s worse than rodents chewing up state files and cables? A senior legislator smelling a rat in the contract given to clear out the menace.

A senior leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which rules the western Indian state of Maharashtra, has revealed that last year a staggering 319,400 rats were cleared out from inside Mantralaya, the state’s secretariat in Mumbai.

Speaking in the state legislative assembly on March 22, Eknath Khadse cited a government response to a Right to Information (RTI) query to say that chief minister Devendra Fadnavis’s government had invited bids in 2017 from companies to kill the rats. Khadse alleged that the contractor that won the bid later claimed to have removed all the rats in just seven days, instead of the several months allotted.

“It means (the contractor) killed 45,628.57 rats a day…It also means the company killed 31.68 rats every minute. Their weight was around 9,125.71 kg and every day one truck was required to take dead rats out of Mantralaya. But it is not known where they were disposed of,” he said in the assembly. ”It is very surprising that this company killed over 300,000 rats in just seven days while the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (Mumbai’s civic body) took two years to kill 600,000 rats.”

He demanded an inquiry into the contractor’s claims, sniffing a “large-scale scam.” Khadse also alleged that the government had paid the company Rs1.5 per rat, The Times of India newspaper reported.

Is the Fadnavis government rat-tled yet?

Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly mentioned that the contractor was apparently paid Rs1.5 lakh per rat. Khadse actually alleged that the amount was Rs1.5 per rat.