Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The human debuggers

An Appalling story.. from DNA

Monday, August 07, 2006 22:41 IST
KOLKATA: Such is the level of impoverishment in rural West Bengal, that they are feeding their own blood to bedbugs, just to earn a paltry two rupees. This new ‘profession’ has emerged along highways, where dhaba owners have found this novel way to keep bedbugs away from their regular customers.

With pesticides and hot water too expensive or cumbersome to eradicate the pests living in the charpoys of dhabas, owners are recruiting poor people who lie on each charpoy completely nude for half an hour, to let the bedbugs feed on their blood. Once the bugs are satiated, they do not bite the customers who use the charpoys during the day. Once a charpoy is thus ‘debugged’, the human debugger shifts to another charpoy. He is paid Rs 2 for every charpoy that he lies down on.

According to Dalbir Khetri, a dhaba owner in Duttapukur, North 24 Parganas, it is not possible to disinfect the coir beds by washing them with boiling water. “These coir beds take at least 24 hours to dry, which would lead to a loss in business,” Khetri added.

Kartara Singh, of “Kaka Da Dhaba,” near Kolkata airport, finds usage of chemical disinfectants very costly. “Most of my customers are truck drivers and cleaners. My earnings are not enough
for me to be able to use chemical disinfectants every day.”

The ‘human debuggers’ however, are not complaining, as they take this profession as their destiny. Jhabua, one such worker at Singh’s dhaba, said, “At least I am earning something.”

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