In a Relationship with Creepy-Crawlies: Pest Control at NIT Rourkela
PESTS: THE UNWANTED GUESTS
A safe, pleasant and a comfortable stay in the hostels, is what every boarder of a hostel wishes to be in his entire years of study. Not just halls of residences, places in the vicinity of the academic areas must be ergonomically sound enough to ensure that none of the students, academicians faces any kind of distraction due to various natural factors, though inevitable, a primary concern to be seriously dealt with. In the context of NIT, Rourkela, of course, some physical conditions have favoured rapid multiplication of this issue, but there are some aspects that have proved to be sometimes disappointing, despite several measures been taken.
Pest control at NIT Rourkela is an aspect that requires paramount attention. Somewhere these things are ignored while somewhere these issues have got aggravated causing havoc. Pests like bees, snakes, stray dogs, insects have caused unnecessary menaces that have sometimes crossed the threshold of bearabilty. It has often created a state of fear among the students as well.
Team MM surveyed the students of NIT Rourkela to know about the issues pertaining to unwanted pests on campus, their opinions regarding the pest control at NITR and whether the measures taken have been effective enough or not.
ANALYSING THE ISSUES FROM THE ROOT LEVEL.
The most important issue that concerns all the students is the innumerous mosquito breeding. The sole cause has been the water-logged drains and underground sewerage system adjacent to ground floor toilets that serve as favourable breeding places of mosquito larvae. Moreover, the halls like SD and VS being situated close to two large stagnant, sluggish, algae-clad ponds often adds to the dwelling of various fatal mosquito species.
NIT Rourkela junta adds its opinions regarding this issue as;
Needed better pest control as the hall is situated besides the pond that causes a lot of problem
VS has got narrow lanes connecting the blocks, rainwater gets stored and the mosquitoes dwell in them.
Even though the Hall Management Committee (HMC) has taken the responsibility of spraying mosquito prevention gas on every Sunday, but they often miss covering the upper floors of the hostel complexes.
Adding to this, Prof. DS Nimaje, Warden of VS Hall of Residence adds,
Since the fumigation machine is a big and a heavy one, so it isn’t possible to cover every floor of every block of VS, considering VS to be the largest hall in terms of area amongst all. It would take around 3-4 hours to fumigate the entire VS. So, it isn’t practically feasible.
Another major issue that concerns the boarders is the presence of unvaccinated stray dogs and puppies roaming in and around the residential and mess complex of the halls of residences and causing a great deal of inconvenience to the people. Moreover, the boarders are sometimes found themselves feeding the puppies, giving the puppies a chance to follow them to the mess complex. Many a time, the dogs are also found inside LA complex, intruding into the classes in the middle of nowhere that intervenes the decorum of the class.
Stray dogs are most dangerous often they roam around the hostel corridors and even go into our hostel bathrooms, urinate and excrete in front of our doors.
The main cause of the dogs entering the hostel complex are the unemptied open dustbins. Food items and other waste eatables inside the dustbins are the ones they feed over.
The most important aspect that must be given the utmost attention is ensuring that the dogs don’t enter inside BPCL. BPCL being a state-of-the-art library should be no. 1 in all aspects.
Similar to the dogs, the cats have also added a lot to the pest menace mostly in and around the mess areas. A boarder at KMS Hall of Residence adds following this issue;
Cats are being fed by the serving ladies in the mess which leads to the stray cats being present in the kitchen area of our mess as well. Moreover, the cats enter the washrooms of the girl’s hostel at night and run around the corridors of the blocks in ground floors.
The picture below illustrates the current situation in the girl’s hostel;
Bees and snakes are one of the fatal categories of pests that are often discovered in and around the academic areas. Huge chunks of beehives have been found adjacent to the windows in few blocks of SD Hall of Residence and few in the Computer Science Department as well. In recent times, there were few incidents recorded where snakes were found to be crawling in the LA lawns and near to the VS Hall of Residence. Untrimmed grasses, dense bushes could be one of the reasons owing to this issue.
Sometimes the gardens are not properly maintained, grasses and weeds are not properly trimmed, that serve as major cause for discovery of deadly pests like snakes.
Following the bee issue, Prof. S.K. Sahoo, Warden, GD Birla Hall of Residence added;
The beehives forming on the walls are natural. But we ensure that if there is any hive, that must be removed on an immediate basis. Moreover, every year in July, when there aren’t any boarders staying, we carry out the beehive removal work.
Often the open dustbins hanging to the walls and railings are found overflowing with garbage, that attracts rodents like crows, mice and ants which create a complete mess around that particular place. In addition to these, many incidents of insects being found in food have been reported by the boarders.
Owing to the issue Somdeb Ganguly, Environment Secretary of VS added;
These instances are very unfortunate and are indeed very rare. As soon as an insect is found in the plate of a student, his plate is immediately changed. On the long term, we have repeatedly asked the mess workers to maintain hygiene, wear caps and keep the food containers covered when not serving food. We have discussed this issue with them and they have ensured us that they will take every preventive measure possible to control this issue.
THE HMC SPEAKS.
In conversation with the HMC members, the members of the committee addressed these issues and the measures that have been taken;
Somdeb Ganguly, Environment Secretary, VS Hall of Residence added;
The menace caused by pests is a major problem on our campus, especially because we have dense vegetation surrounding our campus. In our VS hall, we have ensured that there is the proper trimming of hedges and trees regularly and proper fumigation being done in the hall at regular intervals. Also, the dustbins are emptied regularly and any source of stagnant water pools are cleaned to prevent incubation of mosquito eggs.
He further added regarding the dog issue;
The boarders need to take precautions on their side. Unless provoked, a normal dog will not hurt any boarder. The main reason that the dogs enter the hostel is that the boarders feed them. If you don't want dogs bothering you, stop feeding them. According to MHRD norms, these dogs can't be killed or put out of their natural habitat. So the best we can do in this situation is to restrict their entry into the hall. The security guard sitting at the gate has already been told to shoo away any stray dog trying to enter the hall.
Prof DS Nimaje added,
Pest control in the mess area is carried out by the caterer at regular intervals after the dinner which takes around 1-1.5 hours. Apart from that sweepers, cleaners are also assigned to keep the floor of each block neat and clean using phenyls and other disinfectants. The boarders should be self-aware and if anyone found indulging in bringing puppies into the halls, will be seriously dealt with. Moreover, I have sent emails to the boarders many a time insisting them to keep the hostel complex clean so that VS would become the cleanest halls amongst all.
Prof. S.K. Sahoo addressed the pest control issue at GDB as;
The fumigation process is done very effectively in GDB on every Sunday. The decision to extend those to other days of the week lies in the hands of the Chief Warden. But we can issue new dustbins with lids from our hostel budget. However, there isn’t any specific budget allocated for Pest Control. This probably goes under the miscellaneous budget.
Anusha, Environment Secretary of KMS Hall of Residence said,
We have got the mosquito control system where the fumigation is done on every Sunday. However, after receiving several complaints about mosquitoes still entering, I spoke to the warden and she had said that this fumigation process could be done twice a week.
She further adds,
The cats in the mess are affecting the hygiene, for which I have asked the warden to put a shutter at the plate submission window and keep the windows closed because those are the places from which the cats enter. Also, the mess staff is being asked to take care of the cats not entering into the kitchen area.
Ishika Padhy, the Environment Secretary of CVR Hall of residence said:
People should not feed cats and dogs, which attracts them to stay in the hostels. I don't think we can get rid of them if they will be provided with food. Many students leave stale plates in the corridors, which also attracts them. The management can't get rid of animals if people in the hostels can't help us.
Sankalp Hota, Environment Secretary, DBA Hall of Residence added;
As a precautionary measure, we have installed a UV machine to control insects in the mess. If an insect is found in food, the incident is reported to the Warden and strict action is taken against the Caterer.
Prof. S.K. Pratihar, the Chief Warden addressed the current situation by adding;
Regarding the insect infestation, we fumigate the whole campus every weekend and try to keep the halls clean. For the stray dogs and cats there is nothing much we can do as there are multiple entrances for them inside a hostel like windows and open drains. It is impossible to monitor them all. If the students are facing such problems, they should come up with a solution for it. For every fumigation, it takes 15000 INR per hall. The fumigation cannot be done more regularly as it is a costly process and we cannot spend more money on that.
UNDERSTANDING FROM PEOPLE’S PERSPECTIVE
Monday Morning took a survey to understand how the people of NITR feel about the pest control system of NITR. Most people are not satisfied with the current method of management of pests, insects and animals. In their opinion, the system lacks in regularity and it should be made more frequent. This management system is somewhat only concerned with mosquitoes and flies and neglects creatures like cats, dogs, mice, lizards, etc. None of them seems to be satisfied and even called it ‘substandard’. Inefficiency in the pest system is causing inconvenience to the residents, by making the surrounding unhygienic and spreading infections.
The following are the suggestions received for improvement in the system:
Removal of the cats from the hostel and prohibiting the mess workers from feeding them. Regular pest control in the hostel with frequent spraying of better chemicals
Dogs and puppies in the academic area should be rounded up and released somewhere else.
Closing all mouse holes, especially the drains in the washrooms should be covered.
Proper fencing, regular use of disinfectant, weekly trimming of the garden area.
The hostel should be kept clean and the rooms should be amended accordingly.
In the case of bees, the beehives must not be allowed to grow big, they must be taken off at the earliest.
Spreading of pesticides more frequently and proper cleaning of the lakeside area
For mosquitoes, lizards, and insects, a proper net must be installed outside the windows of the room, to control their entries.
Pest, insects and animals are a part of our surrounding but their interference with human activities may result in inconvenience to the people around, by making the surrounding unhygienic and causing infections. The pest control system at NITR is not much frequent and limited to mosquitos and insects only which is causing its residents problems. Therefore we hope the authorities consider the issues and take immediate actions to tackle the issues.