The country’s premier military institution, the National Defence Academy (NDA), is experiencing an onslaught from an extraordinary bunch of infiltrators — they’re four-legged and on a mission to obliterate the institute’s green cover.
Wild cattle straying onto the Academy’s premises, spread across 8,300 acre, damage its gardens, lawns and plantations and disrupt its activities.
Such is the cattle nuisance that the NDA has now floated a tender, inviting organisations that specialise in removal and relocation of cattle. While there is no specific allotment, the Academy is willing to spend whatever it takes.
The NDA is located about 17 km southwest of Pune City and northwest of the Khadakwasla Lake, along the backwaters of the Khadakwasla dam.
There are almost 200 to 600 cows and buffaloes seen grazing on NDA premises at any time, said an NDA official on condition of anonymity.
NDA security guards chasing cows and buffaloes has become a common scene. “We cannot use weapons, as they are otherwise harmless. We have to resort to shouting and heckling them,” said NDA officials.
The officials’ concern is aggravated, as cadets too have not been spared. “Cadets have to move on premises and in the surrounding jungles as part of training. Stray cattle are disrupting their activities,” said the official. Often women and children get scared by herds. They walk through saplings, eat leaves and damage lush green lawns, he added.
The Academy has even taken assistance from Pune Municipal Corporation’s animal squad but it failed to show any results. The Academy has appealed to organisations to come forward with their offers, ideas and the estimated cost of relocating the cattle to an appropriate location, within 10 days.
The cattle have identified holes in the NDA fencing, and as hills and forests surround the area, wild cattle find natural protection there while fresh fodder and ample drinking water on NDA premises.
No development activity is allowed in the Khadakwasla dam area, demarcated as defence zone. Set up in 1949 and commissioned in 1955, the National Defence Academy is the only one in the world to include all three wings of the military.