Disruption in traffic movement due to loitering of stray animals has emerged as a major cause of concern. Even as the menace rages on, the menace is unlikely to end soon as the municipal council and the district administration seem to have no clue on tackling the menace.
Barnala has about 1,000 dogs and more than 1,200 cattle and most of these seem to be on roads, if the traffic jams them cause are any indication. There are also eight gaushalas in town that can accommodate more than 2,400 cattle.
In August this year, deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, had assured a delegation of residents that the stray population would be eradicated in two days, a promise that has never looked like being fulfilled. The district administration just issued instructions that stray animals be send to gaushalas and the order was never followed.
Recently, a B Tech student of Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering and Technology was killed when his motorcycle hit a black stray bull in night time, invisible due to the darkness. In another gory incident, stray dogs ravaged the vital organs of four-year-old boy in Dhaner village.
"A stray bull damaged my eye while I was on walk. My life had at risk, but administration did not even sympathised with me. They can never tackle the problem of stray animals," said Moti Ram Garg, president, Barnala Brick Kiln Owners' Association.
Animal Husbandry Department deputy director Dr Sukhdev Singh Grewal said, "We can catch all stray cattle with the help of an eight-member cattle catching team from Patiala. However, we don't have any space to shift them as as gaushalas in the city don't allow it and the cattle pound of the local MC is full."
"Sterilisation of dogs and seven-day follow up for feeding and medicines costs around Rs. 1,000 per dog. In the absence of instructions and funds from the MC, we cannot do it," he added.
He added that last year, a cattle catching team had shifted about 90 cattle to different gaushalas. This year, the team would catch the strays in mid-November with the help of a truck fitted with a lift to ease the operation.
Barnala has 150 dogs and 157 bulls/bulls. Bulls occupy more space and are aggressive in nature, so gaushalas are reluctant to provide shelter to them.
Members of Anand Welfare Club, a local NGO, painted red-coloured reflector paint on horns of about 300 stray animals to avoid untoward incidents as they were difficult to spot at night.
NGO president, Tajinder Singh, said, "We provide first-aid to injured cows and bulls but the effort petered out due to lack of funds."
"Recently a land for constructing Shree Janki Gau Dham had been announced. Now they have removed even the sign board. May be their announcement of gaushala was a gimmick to avoid land acquisition. They should construct the gaushala there. Administration should not be a mute spectator," said Rajiv Barnala.
He claimed that the police also had no arrangements to keep stay animals it seized when being transported to slaughter houses.
Punjab Gaushala Mahasangh secretary, WC Goyal said, "If the municipal council sends stray cows to gaushalas, they, as per rules, are required to reimburse Rs. 18 per cow per day.
Animal Welfare Board of India also provides grants to gaushalas for sheds, trollies and cow ambulance. If the council reimburses, then gaushalas can accommodate cows."
"Regarding reimbursement, I shall talk to EO of municipal council. I shall also ask him to find suitable solution of the problem," said Gurloveleen Singh Sidhu, deputy commissioner.
"All stray cows and bulls are not dangerous to humans. Each gaushala should accommodate a few strays to overcome the problem," said activist Tajinder Singh.
"MCs should either shift animals to cattle pound or it can reimburse expenses to gaushalas for keeping animals there as per government rules," said WC Goyal, secretary, Punjab Gaushala Mahasangh.
Sterilisation of dogs and seven-days follow up for feeding and medicines costs around Rs. 1,000 per dog. In the absence of instructions and funds from municipal council, we cannot do it. Dr Sukhdev Singh Grewal, deputy director, animal husbandry department.