RAIPUR: With increasing cases of snakebites being reported at various quarantine centres in Chhattisgarh, the apprehensive officials in the rural Jashpur district located 350 kim north-east of Raipur, resorted to an unscientific approach of sprinkling salts around the premises to keep venomous snakes out.
Jashpur district is known as Chhattisgarh’s ‘Naglok’ with over 200 species of snakes found in the region.
Most migrant labourers are staying schools and hostels that were converted into quarantine centres in the district. In Chhattisgarh as many as 16 people have died in various centres, most of them from the snakebites.
In Jashpur, the "age-old risky" practice was seen to be followed at Pharsabahar in Jashpur where 978 migrant labourers who returned from Maharasthra, Kerala, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh are staying in around 50 quarantine centres.
According to the deputy collector, Poshak Choudhary, the salt mixed with phenyl liquid concentrate are being splattered around the premises boundary and apparently might work as ‘lakshman rekha’ for quarantine centres against the venoumous legless reptiles.
Experts and rationalists however questioned the unscientific approach, even if its traditionally followed, to ward off venomous snakes as ways to safeguard the lives of the people who are confined in various quarantined buildings.
They have criticised the district administration for adopting the “unproven” method to address a serious issue, since nothing such has been scientifically corroborated to suggest the usage of salt as effective repellent for snakes.
“To prevent the snakes, the efforts should instead be, to eliminate dark damp areas or their hiding places like cracks, holes or crevices. The quarantine areas should remain well illuminated and people should avoid sleeping on the floors. How can you ensure the prevention of snakes to slither into the centre of the house, with salt?,” opined a rationalist Dr Dinesh Mishra, president of ‘Andhshraddha Nirmoolan Samiti’.
The Jashpur collector Mahadev Kavre was not available for comments.