When Amartya Sengupta bought Hitler – his dachshund – two years back, he decided to obtain a pet licence from the Kolkata Municipal Corporation.
But the Bijaygarh resident never thought of the harrowing time that was awaiting him at the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) headquarters on S N Banerjee Road.
First, no official was sure about what a pet licence is. After running from pillar to post, he finally managed to locate the official of the licence department responsible for issuing the pet licence. But Sengupta’s plight never ended here.
“The official smartly handed me over a pet licence form. I came out of the room, sat on a bench and when I was just about to fill it up, I found that this form is meant for pet sellers and not owners. I went back to room where the official told me that never in his 20 years in the civic body did he issue a licence to a pet owner. Quite frustrated, I tucked the form into my hip pocket and left the building,” said Amartya.
Although the licence for keeping pets had been one of the oldest rules of KMC, there had been no pet owners in the city who got pet licenses in the city in the past 30 years. Under the KMC Act, it takes only Rs 150 to apply for this licence.
Ironically, mayor Sovan Chatterjee, who is himself a pet lover and has four pet dogs, oversees the licence department.
“What to do? In order to issue a licence meant for pet owners, we need to visit the owner’s house to physically see the dog and check all vaccination papers and source of procurement. We don’t have manpower to visit each and every pet owner’s house in the 148 wards across the city,” said an officer from licensing department.
The KMC officials are giving this excuse at a time when municipal corporations of all other metros – Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai – have made it mandatory for all pet owners to have valid licence.
These municipalities have made the application process online.
“Although the licence department issues these pet licenses, the health department does have responsibilities in this regard. We have already taken up the issue with the licensing department and are planning to decentralise the application process at the ward level,” said Atin Ghosh (MMIC), health.