By: Engineer Hafeez Ur Rahman
An alarming growth of stray dogs in Kashmir in particular in Srinagar who is feeding themselves on nutritious dumps of garbage is the worrisome situation that has been emerged as dog bites are on a steep rise in Srinagar.
Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) census of stray dogs shows that there are around 1 lac stray dogs roaming the streets of Srinagar. The stray dogs have been storming the streets, running amok, snatching, defecating, fighting, chasing cars, pulling down bicycle riders and often attacking pedestrians and school-going children. In some cases, even soldiers patrolling the streets have become their target.
The dog menace has grown in recent years because of suspension of the earlier Municipal measures of culling stray dogs from time to time. The Municipal authorities, some years back, would cull the stray dogs on a regular basis. In fact, there was a provision in the Municipal Act for such a procedure. However, subsequently, the Animal Protection groups objected to this procedure. Accordingly, it was decided to sterilize the stray dogs to limit their growth as their presence had become a menace to the population.
The Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission had described dog attacks as “Violation of Human Rights”. According to the Srinagar Municipal Corporation Regulation of Animal Birth (Dogs) by laws, the SMC is obligated to provide infrastructure to deal with the stray dog population in a human manner. The corporation is supposed to provide stray dogs with shelter, dog catchers, and satisfactory infrastructure.
The dogs menaces has been responsible fornumerous injuries and manydeaths including children and senior citizens for last few years. Some of the dog bite victims have died of rabies. The anger among the people is boiling day by day. There is good chances mass agitation threat against the administration.
There are reports that tourists have been also attacked by stray dogs in multiple places in Srinagar for last few years. There are also rumours that some vehicles in the darkness of night bring dogs and drop them in the Srinagar City.
The residents of Downtown and Civil Lines in Srinagar like Batamaloo, Rajbagh, Jawahar Nagar, Maisuma, HabbaKadal, Syed Hamidpora, Dabtal, Chamandori, DalalMohalla, GurguriMohalla, RahbabSahab, Qamarwari, Noorbagh, Bemina and others fell fear to come out of their homes after dark as stray dogs are patrolling the area like army regiment . There is a curfew like situation in the said localities.
The Municipality Authority failed to Control Population of stray dogs and hired Rajasthan based outsourcing companies namely as SantulanJeevKalyan and Human Welfare Society – Joint Venture agency for sterilization of Stray Dogs in all the 35 Administrative Wards (74 Electoral Wards) of Srinagar Municipal Corporation.
The SMC has signed a contract with Rajasthan based ‘Santulan Jeev Kalyan’ and ‘Human Welfare Society’ – Joint Venture agency for upcoming Animal (Dogs) Birth Control/Anti-Rabies Vaccination Program in Srinagar. The SMC has constituted 7 members body to supervise the Animal (Dogs) Birth Control/Anti-Rabies Vaccination(ABC/AR) Program in Srinagar Including Health Officer Dr Tawheed Ahmad Najar and SMC Commissioner, Athar Aamir Khan.
As per contract, the SMC has to provide only the infrastructure/hospital and transportation of Dogs to the outsourcing programme team .While as Santulan Jeev Kalyan and Human Welfare Society shall be responsible for, Drivers, maintenance of vehicles and hospital, manpower, medicine, surgery/vaccination of dogs andother things.
The selected agency has to carry out 40,000 +_10% Animal Birth Control surgeries along Anti-Rabies vaccination within a period of 18months in proportionate with the infrastructure provided by the SMC and in accordance with the Animal Welfare Board of India guidelines and Animal Birth Control (Dogs) rule 2001 and other relevant statues. This programmeis about 18 months of duration. The SMC shall payRs. 11,30 for per dog’s sterilization. The SMC will provide them two Hospitals/ Animal Birth Control Centres for sterilization programme , one at Tengpora Byepassand other at Shuhama, Srinagar.
To reduce the dog population, SMC have been carrying out the dog sterilization programme for the last many years at Shuhama, Ganderrbal Sterilization Centre. But failed to give satisfactory results.
Another Dog Sterilization Centre is being made operational at Tengpora Byepass, Srinagar and construction is at almost completion stage. Around on 60 Kannalsof land, the sterilization centre is being constructed at Tengpora Byepass Srinagar. The Dogs Sterilization Hospital will be operational soon at Tengpora Byepass Srinagar.
Srinagar Municipal Corporation is building Animal Birth Control Centre at Tengpora Byepass on modern lines which will be equipped with all the modern facilities. Having a capacity of conducting 50- 60 sterilization surgeries in a day, the centre will also house an Anti-Rabies Vaccination Centre.
But only sterilization programme is not enough to controlthe dogs populations. After completion of this programme,it will take years to observe results. It is not sure also the dogs population will be controlledat desired level. Dogs are seasonal breeders and they mate twice a year. They give birth to sixteen puppies a year, most of them survive.
This istotally, incompetency and mismanagement of SMC authority that they failed to get sterilization of dogs themselves at desired level. We have a good strength of staff and employees in SMC. The Kashmir has lacs of unemployed youth including veterinary doctors and nurses. Why the SMC failed to deal with sterilization of dogs. There is a big question mark, why SMC has taking help from outsourcing companies on huge cost?
As per Animal Rights Act/ Law of Land, killing of Dogshave been banned and is punishable act. But I question, the law of land, if killing of Dogs is banned, then how can one justify killing/slaughter of sheep/goats and other animals? It is SMC prime responsibility to provide protection to the citizens from stray dogs.