PESHAWAR - Having no other mechanism to control the growing population of rats, the city district government came up with an unusual move by fixing Rs 25 as 'prize money' for killing each rat.

Sensing the gravity of situation emerged after increase in rat-bite incidents, it was decided to launch a massive anti-rats operation on emergency basis with the help of citizens. Anyone, who kills a rat, will get Rs 25 each as prize-money.

Moreover, the citizens would also be provided free rat killing poison; this was decided at a meeting held with City Nazim Mohammad Asim Khan in the chair. Officials from health and sanitation services department were also present on the occasion.

According to Naseer Ahmad, head of the anti-rats operation, for obtaining good results, this drive would be run on daily basis until the city is cleaned completely.

Hailing from Peshawar city, Nasser, an expert rat killer said that cleanup operation would also be carried out in streams, nullahs, scrap godowns and containers.

In addition, some specific points have been reserved in all four town councils, where the residents would dump the rats and claim their prize.

To collect the rats killed by the citizens, a mobile service has also been setup, while district government has also directed for distributing rat-killing poison among the residents.

Locals said that rats invaded Peshawar since floods in 2010, which resulted in increase in rat-bite occurrences in the city, but, there is no mechanism so far to control its population. However, campaigning since long against rats, Naseer Ahmad along with his family has reportedly killed more than 100,000 rats in the past 18 months in Peshawar.

In the presence of very large rats, they were worried to leave kids alone even for playing at home, they added saying that time and again they requested to health and local government officials but to no avail. They said that they welcomed this move launched by the government against rats.

On February 18 last, a news-hit headlines in local media when an eight-month-old child Mohammad Huzaifa, the only son of Khairuz Zaman died after being bitten by a rat at Hassan Garhi area of Peshawar.

The minor was asleep when a rat bit him on the nose and he died after some time.

Moreover, this issue of Peshawar invaded by rats landed in the recent session of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, when a lawmaker brought it into the notice of his colleagues. 

On this occasion, Health Minister Shahram Tarakai said that there was need to devise a strategy to cope with rat-bite incidents, saying it needs a joint approach to remove causes of rat-bite and ensure treatment to victims.

Health experts are citing various other reasons for increasing numbers of rates say that that poor sanitation and drainage system, population increase and lack of cleanliness are the main cases, besides wasted scattered foods.

They said that used to eat from the heaps of dirt, open fields and canal, rats are now getting all these things inside homes from a dustbin.

Though each municipal committee has posts of rat-killers, unfortunately, they were not working effectively, an official said.

On March 11 last, Dr Hussain Ahmed Haroon formally filed a writ-petition at Peshawar High Court against the government over the increasing number of rats.

He filed the petition to find a solution to the ever present problem. In the petition, he said that a new breed of giant rats measuring 22 to 30cm are being witnessed in the city for the last few years not only causing damage to public property and edibles but also posing a serious threat to public health.

The court admitted the petition for hearing. On March 28, a division bench of the court directed concerned quarters to file a complete report on the increasing number of rats in the provincial capital and the next date of hearing in the case will be held on April 5 next.