Hard economics or a 'pig economy' that thrives in Shivpuri seems to be the reason for this town with a population of 1.80 lakh to have an exceptionally large number of pigs living within it. This had infuriated the residents so much so that they were forced to file a petition in the high court for ordering the comatose civic authorities for their removal.
As per municipal authorities, there are an estimated 20,000 feral pigs in the town.
Sources said that a large number of people hailing from a particular community have been engaged in rearing pigs in Shivpuri.
The community has traditionally reared pigs and used them for their meat. However, in the last few years, there has been a sudden spurt in demand for pork across the country, especially in Punjab, where it fetches anywhere between Rs 50 and 70 per kg. "With mutton prices soaring, pork has emerged as an option for many," said Sadanand, who identified himself as a safai karmchari with the municipality and sometime a pig rearer.
As soon as the demand was registered with the local community, pigs became an asset and their rearing promoted. However, after the April 2014 HC order, the municipality asked the owners of the pigs to take them away. But nobody came forward and the pigs were declared feral by the authorities and a tender was floated to recruit someone to cull them.
"I am told pig owners have been offering bribe to municipal authorities to not take me to areas with high pig population so that their pigs are not killed," says Shafath Ali Khan, who has been appointed as the chief culling officer by Shivpuri municipality and has shot almost 5,000 pigs till now.
Another reason for the high number of pigs is the complete collapse of civic amenities and cleanliness in the town. "Many residential colonies have come up in Shivpuri and houses have been built next to drains and sewers. Most residents cover the drains with slabs providing a safe habitat for pigs to wallow in," says Surendra Sahu, a resident of Mahal colony. Besides this, pigs have a fast rate of breeding too.