Rats! Rodent operatives caught out

There are 97 rat catchers on the municipal payroll, all working for the Rat Surveillance Department, which last saw serious action in 1994, when a plague outbreak killed 56 people, The Hindustan Times reported. Each rat catcher earns about 3,500 rupees (£44) a month, but there are no records of any rodents being caught in the past 10 years, the newspaper said.

Rats, which can carry diseases including plague, are common in Delhi and many residents use their own traps to catch them in the absence of any visible government effort at eradication. Delhi officials were not immediately available for comment, but the newspaper quoted officials as saying that whenever they received complaints about rodents in other government departments they set up traps to catch them. The officials couldn't recall when or where they last set a trap.

Pest control is a major problem in New Delhi, with pigeons, bats and monkeys also posing a risk to public health. Authorities at the lower house of parliament have admitted defeat in the fight to stop winged intruders entering the building during debates, while MPs complain that any food they leave unattended is gobbled up by stray cats.

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