Army searching for Pied Piper in Ladakh

New Delhi: Army is searching for a Pied Piper in Ladakh where rats are gobbling up its ration which reaches there through a long and arduous supply route.

The Indian Army stocks supplies for winter in the summer itself as the road links to higher altitudes remains cut-off from the rest of the country in winter due to heavy snowfall for around six months.

As the roads are too narrow, they take the help of mules to carry these rations and other essential supplies to an altitude of over 15,000 feet.

Since there is significant rodent infestation in the Army settlements in higher altitudes, the Medical Research Wing of the Armed Forces Medical Services are going to undertake a study to find out the extent of the problem of rodent nuisance in eastern and western Ladakh armed forces settings.

"Rats cause a great deal of nuisance everywhere. They spoil precious stocks, lead to nuisance and also spread diseases. Army settlements in higher altitudes are not spared from this as these rats are spoiling the winter stocks.

"All conventional methods of controlling them are not as effective as they are in the plains," Lieutenant General Naresh Kumar, Commandant, Army Hospital Research and referral and officiating DGAFMS said.

Conventional methods exist to control rodent nuisance like rat traps, rodenticides and repellents have failed in Ladakh.

"Carrying rations and other essential supplies to an altitude of over 15,000 feet is no easy task. As such we have decided to conduct a study to identify the problem of rodent nuisance in eastern Ladakh and western Ladakh in Armed Forces setting and evaluate various methods to control them for effective management of their infestation in our areas in eastern and western Ladakh," Major General Mandeep Singh, ADG, Medical Research, Armed Forces Medical Services said.

Rats not only waste our food grains like wheat, rice and atta but they also cause a great deal of nuisance by scampering, running around and making noise.

And needless to say they are carriers of various diseases, he said.

"None of these conventional methods are of help to us. In the study that will be undertaken, we will concentrate on three aspects. We will look for measures to identify the most effective technique to control the nuisance spread by rats.

While looking into the various nuisance spread by them we will also find if they have the potential to spread diseases," Lieutenant Colonel Dennis Abraham, preventive medicine specialist said.

"These rats never were present here in the higher altitudes or came in with the food stock in trucks and gradually breeded in large quantities — all these details need to be found out.

"There is no established study of rodent nuisance in higher altitudes," he said.