The Metro is Kochi’s newest marker, but the most permanent symbol of the city is the mosquito.

Mosquitos own country In Kochi homeless and landlords all deal with this persistent insect
news City Wednesday, June 21, 2017 - 19:21

Take a walk anywhere in Kochi after 10.30pm, and one particular sight will definitely greet you: Mosquito nets in all shapes, sizes and colours.

They’re around the sleeping figures of the homeless in the city, who battle mosquitoes along with poverty and the elements. They’re tied on top of trucks that are parked for the night, where the drivers sleep.

Sometimes, they’re accompanied by the mosquito bat, which punctuates the incessant buzz of the winged menace with the PHAT PHAT PHAT of them being electrocuted to death.

Other times, you can smell the ubiquitous mosquito coil from metres away.

Precautions. Precautions. And more precautions. That’s the reality of the city which has become the mosquito’s own country.

Rich and poor, young and old, everyone has to deal with the menace across the city.

So much so that advertisements for rooms in the city come with the words, “Kodhugu illatha murigal.”

Literally, rooms without mosquitoes.

The concept is indeed a luxury in the city, which has been plagued by dengue for several weeks now.

In Kerala, the number of confirmed dengue cases reported this year is 7,165. There were 45 suspected deaths due to dengue, and 13 confirmed ones.

Kochi, though, is particularly infamous. A city surrounded by canals where the water is almost still, the mosquito epidemic in the city has been making news for several years now. Add to that the heaps of waste on road sides, and it’s the perfect breeding ground for the disease spreading insect.

Over the years, there have been numerous efforts to get rid of the mosquitoes - with little effect.

“Almost Rs 3 crore was spent by the Cochin corporation every year to tackle the mosquito menace, over the last few decades. We spend about Rs 50 lakh on the chemicals to kill the mosquitoes every year. We spray each house, each canal… Apart from this, a good amount of money is spent on cleaning up the canals every year, ahead of the monsoon,” says VK Minomol, the chairperson of the Corporation Health Standing Committee.

Minimol says that apart from all these measures, the corporation has also invested a lot in buying fogging machines, sprayers of different sizes etc.

But despite all these steps, the mosquito menace in the city has shown no sign of decreasing. And despite the corporation’s claims of clean-up, the garbage in the city has not decreased either.

In fact, the problem is so bad that in 2016, the city’s Tourism Promotion Association had given a written complaint to the corporation about how the mosquito menace is affected the tourism in the city.

Speaking to TNM, the president of the association, Antony Kureethra, says, “Last year we had given a complaint that tourists who come here cut their stay short due to the mosquito menace.”

“Especially in homestays, the situation is so bad, that we constantly get complaints. The mounds of garbage everywhere doesn’t help either,” he adds.

Main image by AnilKumar (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Edited by Ragamalika Karthikeyan

Show us some love and support our journalism by becoming a TNM Member - Click here.