New Delhi: In a development likely to raise question marks over the efficiency of Western Railways (WR), a response by it to a Right to Information (RTI) enquiry has revealed that in the last three years, it spent a whopping Rs 1.52 crore in trying to tackle rat menace, but was able to trap just 5,457 rats.

This, on an average, means that it spent Rs 2,485 in trying to trap a single rat. Rats have been a source of great trouble at trains and yards in Mumbai Central division, which prompted the response by WR in the first place.

According to a WR official, specialised agencies were hired to carry out pest control in all train coaches, pit lines, coaching depots and yards. The counting of the number of rats killed, meanwhile, was done by a railways team which carried out a survey of the tracks. Apart from counting the number of dead rats, the official said, the team also with mud and stones any rat burrow that they found.

However, defending WR, another official, who supervises the pest control, said that the exercise had led to a marked decrease in the number of complaints( by over 70%), about pests in general and rats in particular. “The benefits also include reduced damage to property, including bogeys, signals and passengers’ luggage,” the official said.

Ravinder Bhakar, chief public relations officer (CPRO), meanwhile, said that it would be wrong to correlate the cost of the contract with the number of rats killed. “This is a count of dead rats that we could find. Many rats that died elsewhere due to our drugs have not been accounted for. Hence, it can’t be said that Rs 2,485 were spent in trapping a single rat. The exercise also improved cleanliness,” the officer said.