It was around two in the afternoon. Hasan Mohammed, a student of a private university, sat in front of a desk in his room to concentrate on his studies.
The English major had an exam the next day and he was worried that he did not study enough.
But for Hasan, there were bigger things to worry about, even though it came in a minuscule form.
Every time he tried to concentrate, he was being attacked by mosquitoes.
Finding no other alternatives, the resident of Chittagong city's Hemsen Lane sat on his bed and used a mosquito net as a protection.
“I even tried burning coils underneath the table. That did not help much. After a while, my eyes started to ache,” he said. “Seems like there is no respite from the menace. Day or night, the situation remains the same. Normalcy has become quite impossible due to the attack of mosquitoes.”
Hasan eventually appeared at the exam and did quite well. Though, he said, he could have done better if he had studied uninterrupted and peacefully.
Not just him, for the last few weeks, the port city residents have been experiencing the menace of these buzzing bloodsuckers.
This correspondent spoke with many of the residents. Not only they shared their angst, they also blamed the Chittagong City Corporation (CCC) for their sufferings. According to the city dwellers, the corporation's inefficiency is prolonging their misery.
“Even though city dwellers, especially children, are suffering, I do not see any measures taken by the city corporation in my neighbourhood,” said Ripa Chowdhury, a resident of Al Falah Lane in Gate 2 area.
The problem worsens during the evening, she said. “It's quite impossible to get rid of these tiny nuisances by burning coils or spraying aerosol.”
Many of the residents of Solokbohor, Chadgaon, Bogarbil, Anderkilla, Halisahar, Chaktai and other areas echoed her.
Azizur Rahman Siddiki, civil surgeon of Chittagong, told The Daily Star that if the mosquito menace is not controlled, city dwellers might be in a risk of getting affected by chikungunya, malaria and dengu.
He also requested city dwellers not to use coils and aerosol sprays to repel mosquito as those are injurious to health, particularly to minors.
He said people should use mosquito nets first. Secondly, they must make sure that stagnant water is not left cleaned for three days. If so, mosquitoes will proliferate in a way that would be tough to tackle.
Contacted, Shafikul Manna Siddiki, chief conservancy officer of CCC, said they were working non-stop to ensure a mosquito-free atmosphere.
“In the city's 41 wards, 120 workers are engaged in spraying insecticide to control the mosquito menace. We are monitoring them strictly,” he assured.
In 2017-2018 financial year, Tk 10 crore has been allocated for mosquito control, he said. “We have spent Tk 5 crore to procure equipment and chemical substances.”
“For every ward, we are supplying sufficient amount of larvicide and adulticide (an anti-mosquito substance) to wipe out mosquitoes.”
CCC has procured 10,000 litres of larvicide and 25,000 litres of adulticide for 2017-2018 financial year, sources at the conservancy confirmed.
When asked, many residents said they have not seen any CCC worker cleaning the drains or conducting anti-mosquito drives in their neighbourhoods.
The chief conservancy official said the allegations were not correct as they were working relentlessly.
CCC also published advertisement on local newspapers urging the city dwellers not to clog up drains by throwing waste, he said.
Prof Sikandar Khan, president of Forum for Planned Chittagong and also vice-chancellor of East-Delta University, said clogged-up drains are one of the major reasons for mosquito menace. It is vital to clean drains, canals, septic tanks and bushes, which are the breeding grounds of mosquitoes.
Regarding CCC's claim that they were working relentlessly, he said then why people are still suffering.
“If I take their claim of working relentlessly as true, then the chemical substances they bought must be of a lower grade. That is why, we are not getting any result,” he said.
When asked, CCC Mayor AJM Nasir Uddin said they would not be able to fight the mosquito menace alone.
“We need city dweller's support and awareness in this regard. If we want to eradicate mosquitoes, we will need at least Tk 100 crore. With the money we have right now, we can control the problem but cannot get rid of it for good,” he added.
In 2016-2017, CCC's expenditure was Tk 2.8 crore and for year 2015-2016 Tk 1.30 crore while Tk 1 crore each for fiscal years 2014-2015 and 2013-2014.
The total amount spent by the CCC to control mosquito stands at Tk 16 crore in the last five years.
Even though the amount of money allocated for controlling mosquitoes have gone up significantly this year in comparison to the previous years, the residents are yet to see any result, said many of the city dwellers.