Dogged by a prevailing financial crunch and several failed attempts at sterilisation of stray dogs, the Amritsar municipal corporation (MC), with its meager resources, plans to try its hand again at sterilising the pariah canines that have made life difficult for the city residents.
The sterilisation project, involving an expenditure of `80 lakh, was sanctioned by the House in a meeting held almost six months ago, but the MC is yet to get started with it.
The reason being cited for the delay in starting sterilisation of dogs is the pending nod from the finance and contract committee (FNCC) of the MC. The MC officials said that the project required the approval of the FNCC, the meeting of which was likely to be convened shortly.
The city, at present, is beset by an alarmingly high number of stray dogs, which is around 39,000 and the instances of dog bites and the resultant deaths each year are on the rise. This is because of the fact that the city has a large number of eating joints and spaces that provide free succour and shelter to these canines.
High canine poulation
While the problem affects the entire city, areas with high density of canine population include the walled city and Majitha Road. The problem is quite intense in Verka too, where a number of instances of dog bites are often reported.
PREVIOUS FAILED ATTEMPTS
Mooted five years ago, the advanced Minimally Invasive Vas Occlusion Technique (MIVOT) of strerilisation was stopped midway following disapproval of the Animal Welfare Board of India. Similarly, the `1.26 crore Animal Birth Control (ABC) project of the Animal Welfare Board could also not be completed, while the Catch, Neuter, Vaccinate and Release (CNVR) project of the MC undertaken in collaboration with the animal husbandry department too ended in the same way.
The poor financial condition of the MC is a major hurdle in the way of the proposed project. Time and again the MC officials have made it clear that their expenditure far exceeds their income and that there is little or no funding from the government. Besides, the MC is yet to chalk out a strategy for ensuring the success of the project, while the civic body also lacks centres to conduct these surgeries.
"Just sterilising dogs is not sufficient. The MC should sterilise stray female canines too as well as pet dogs to ensure the success of the project. The councillors should be made responsible for conducting the project ethically in their wards. A monitoring committee should be formed as per the ABC rules," said Sehej Gulati, an animal lover.
"The presence of stray dogs has made it difficult for the residents to come out of their houses at night, particularly in the walled city area," said Pradeep Sareen, a BJP leader.
Municipal Commissioner Pradeep Sabharwal said that the project had been approved by the MC House, but awaited the nod of the FNCC. "We shall start working on it as soon as the FNCC affords its approval," he said.
RATS RATTLE CITY
Rats have once again appeared in the city and the MC, which is aware of the problem, is looking for a 'suitable solution' to the problem fearing reproach from the animal lovers in the city in case of a wrong step taken in this regard.
While a majority of the areas in the city, which is a foodie's paradise, is home to a vast rat population, it is particularly the areas in and around the walled city, where the menace is quite intense.
In a letter to the mayor, Sareen has alleged that rats have unleashed a terror in the walled city area as their presence has led to the failure of the sewerage system, besides posing hurdles in the way of Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan.
"The increase in rat population has weakened the foundations of homes and other buildings in the area. There is also a constant fear of outbreak of deadly diseases," he said.
"We have many options as far as dealing with the rat population is concerned, but we are not sure which option we should adopt," said municipal commissioner Pradeep Sabharwal.
He added that the MC wanted to weigh each option properly and then chalk out a strategy to deal with the same. "If killing or displacing stray dogs can stir a hornet's nest, killing rats can too do the same. So we are carefully mulling what action should be taken in this regard," he said.