Morning walkers from Kochi’s two coastal panchayats buy African snails to kill them en masse

Since putting up posters a week back, they are being flooded with calls from affected people as African snails infest crops besides posing health hazards.

An offer to buy the highly invasive African snails is not something one come across very often.

Nondescript posters, complete with the contact numbers, making exactly such an offer are turning heads in the coastal panchayats of Nayarambalam and Njarakkal.

The rather novel initiative is the brainchild of ‘Sunrise,’ a combine of morning walkers. Since putting up the posters a week back, they are being flooded with calls from affected people as African snails infest crops besides posing health hazards.

“We buy African snails for ₹1 each. In the one week since we started the initiative, we have bought over 3,500 snails, which were later killed en masse using a saline lotion. In one case, we bought about 600 snails from a single household,” said Avarachan Parakkal, an active member of the group. So acute has been the problem that some of the posters they put up themselves were found to have been infested by the snails.

The group of workers has been hitting the road in the mornings without fail for the last four years. The menace posed by African snails came to their notice after they frequently came across them in large numbers on their usual walking stretch spanning two panchayats.

“We started killing them using saline lotions and even sanitisers. But we realised that it was far from adequate since the majority of the snails inhabited private properties, which we cannot trespass without permission. That’s when we decided to mobilise funds to buy them,” said Ouseph Valooraan, another member of the group.

Purchase and elimination of snails are only the latest of the initiatives of ‘Sunrise,’ which has been frequently intervening in local matters of public interest whether it is waterlogging or bad roads. “We either bring the matter to the notice of the authorities concerned and if they fail to act then we do whatever we could,” said Jiju Jacob, another member of the group comprising 22 persons.

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