Rats here, rats there, rats everywhere! This is the condition of Indian Railways as of today. Indian Railway is the lifeline of every average Indian. It is the second largest rail network in Asia transporting about 30 million people daily. Touted as one of the most commuter friendly means of travel, they are the most preferred means for every average Indian. Apart from connecting the most far reaching and hitherto inaccessible areas to each other, it provides us with a means of pocket friendly commute.
A train journey is quite the experience for kids and adults alike. But what happens when they are confronted with abominable co-passengers like rats and cockroaches? Well the “happy” train ride gets quickly transformed into a ghoulish nightmare! The perpetrators of this horror movie are the nasty rodents, cockroaches and bedbugs. They have stealthily made their way into the complex railway network and captured every nook and corner.
Rodents are rampant in coaches adjoining the pantry cars. Owing to the wide and continuous usage of the railway carriages, there is ample food in the form of leftovers from meals. Also the presence of bedding in the Air Conditioned coaches makes for ideal home for insects like bedbugs. Ensconced in the linen and blankets given to passengers travelling on AC two and three-tier coaches, bed bugs become active once lights in coaches go off and passengers hit the sack. According to a survey, the most commonly infested places are the mattress (98.2%).
Despite repeated complaints the Railway authorities have been able to do little regarding this problem. There have been numerous cases where passenger trains have been delayed due to passengers staging a full-fledged “rail roko” a popular term for forceful stoppage of trains by passengers owing to dissatisfactory services rendered. The past 3-4 years have seen a hike in such revolts. On an average, 773 rats and over 31,368 cockroaches per month are exterminated from coaches at Secunderabad and eight other coaching depots under SCR (South Central Railways) limits every month. Not only the SCR but other branches of Railways too bear the brunt of these wily pests. As a solution to this the Railway authorities have been handing out expensive pest control contacts to reputed agencies. These pest agencies use poisonous chemicals and gases as a means to combat the pest problem, but at the end of the day are none the wiser. The pests might leave the carriages alone temporarily, but the temptation of food is too alluring to resist. They come back soon! In the end the problem remains untreated; the commuters continue to be harrowed!
Presence of these creepy crawlers is highly bothersome. Rats and cockroaches have resulted in the loss of peace of mind of commuters till now; but considering the recent turn of events, rats might just turn out to be the cause for loss of life! This is something that we cannot ignore!
Lets us look at the below news article:
Rats behind Bangalore-Nanded Express blaze?
V Kamalakara Rao, TNN | Jan 1, 2014, 11.04 PM IST
VISAKHAPATNAM: Four days after the train blaze in Anantapur district, that claimed 26 lives, railway authorities are still sticking to their short circuit theory despite their inability to ascertain the actual reason that sparked off the blaze. Experts however point out that this short circuit could well be due to the rodent menace which has grown into unmanageable proportions.
According to experts, mice chew the protective rubber insulation off the electricity wires and studies also reveal that rodents are behind nearly 5-6% of power outages and short circuits.
Andhra University professor GVKR Sastry, who has 35 years of experience in teaching and research in the field of electrical engineering, explained the role rodents play in triggering short circuits either by chewing the cables or by coming in contact with `positive’ and `negative’ nodes or terminals.
A short circuit is an abnormal connection between two nodes of an electric circuit intended to be at different voltages. “If a rodent is stuck between the two nodes, the connection between the nodes of the circuit lead to an abnormal stage, causing circuit damage, overheating, fire or explosion,” Prof Sastry explained.
“There are possibilities of rodents triggering short circuits. It happens often. However, I can’t ascertain the reasons behind the Bangalore-Nanded Express fire without examining the incident spot,” Sastry concluded.
Agreeing with Prof Sastry, Anil Kumar, divisional railway manager, Waltair Division of East Coast Railway (ECoR), said that railway officers concerned currently suspect that the fire may have been triggered by a short circuit. “I agree that rodents could also be one of the reasons behind short circuits,” Anil Kumar told TOI.
Visakhapatnam Railway Zone Sadana Samiti convener JV Satyanarayana Murthy said, “In my experience with the Railways, I have found a number of rodents or mice crawling in the AC coaches of trains, particularly in Garibrath Express that is a fully-AC daily train plying between Visakhapatnam and Secunderabad. This theory was also proved right when a fire mishap took place in my car after rats chewed off some wires. The privatization of maintenance works of the coaches has led to the poor condition of the coaches and the rising number of rodents.”
When contacted, ECoR chief public relation officer JP Mishra said: “We are keeping a strict watch on complaints from passengers on rodents and pests. The root cause lies in the maintenance and sanitation at the railway station and proper cleaning of the coaches, especially the pantry cars. If there are any complaints they will tighten the mechanism and continue the strict vigil.”
The above incident is a shocking one. The loss of 26 lives is being attributed to measly rodents!
Rats are inquisitive by nature and love exploring new places. Also they are characterized by a pair of ever growing incisors which need to be kept short by gnawing. Rats are attracted to the smell and color of polymers and therefore electric wires and cables are a soft target for them to gnaw at. Chewing by rats damages the cables and wires and can result in short circuit as in the above case.
Efforts by the Railways need to be quadrupled to effectively deal with this problem. It has been proved time and again that the conventional pest control strategies have failed and lakhs of rupees have gone down the drain. In order to prevent the occurrence of any untoward incident in the future at the behest of rodents or pests, new and effective methods need to be designed and followed through.
C Tech Corporation can offer a solution to this problem. Our products Rodrepel™ and Combirepel™ are non-toxic, non-hazardous rodent and pest aversive. They are available in the form of masterbatches which can be directly incorporated in the polymer matrix during processing of wires and cables. This would result in the final cable or wire being rodent and pest repellant. This would be an efficient way of deterring the rodents from chewing the cables and wires and thus negate the possibility of a short circuit. Gruesome accidents like above can thus be avoided.
Rodrepel™ and Combirepel™ are also available in lacquer form and can be applied directly on the outside as well as inside of the railway coaches. These products can effectively control the proliferation of these undesired pests!