Sanitation workers may soon also have to do a headcount of dogs in the areas that they clean as part of a North Delhi Municipal Corporation proposal for a census of the canines.
At least 8,000 cases of dog bite are reported every week in the city, shows data from hospitals. To sterilise or vaccinate stray dogs, according to Supreme Court’s recent direction to states and civic bodies, experts said a dog census is the need of the hour.
“According to a WHO technical report, in order for any anti-rabies or sterilisation to work, 70% of the dog population needs to be vaccinated or sterilised. For that you need a census,” said Sonya Ghosh, founder of NGO Citizens for the Welfare and Protection of Animals.
Experts from the Dwarka-based Institute of Urban Sciences and Design are working with the north civic body on the census. They proposed that sanitation workers (safai karamcharis) will conduct street-level surveys in their respective areas of operation.
North corporation standing committee chairman Mohan Bhardwaj told HT that out of the six zones under the civic body, they will start with two zones.
Bhardwaj said operations will start in City and Sadar Paharganj zones, part of the Walled City, as they are more populated and congested.
“In City and Sadar Paharganj zones, our safai karamcharis will do the counting themselves. For the other four zones – Karol Bagh, Rohini, Civil Lines and Narela – we have floated tenders,” he said.
Why use municipal corporation workers?
Institute of Urban Sciences and Design founder Rishi Dev said the dog census cannot and should not be carried out by external agencies. He said it required a detailed methodology than just number counting.
“The safai karamcharis will collect data on the number of dogs, their gender and their sterilisation status. We have to understand the density of population and distribution of dogs.”
Dev said critical areas will have to be identified and resources allocated to them accordingly.
Activists and animal lovers, however, are apprehensive about involving sanitation workers. Sonya Ghosh, also a member of Delhi State Advisory Board for Animal Welfare, did not think it a good idea. “Sanitation workers don’t do their primary job of cleaning the city properly. What census will they conduct? You need responsible people or an agency to conduct it.”
The previous counting of street dogs was in 2009 for the then unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD). It pegged stray dog population at 5.62 lakh.