Staff can’t bell Parliament’s unparliamentary cats
A clean-up drive in the Parliament complex has forced officials to find an answer to an uncomfortable question: what to do with its resident cats?
These unwanted guests, who have entered the sprawling complex and found enough food, shelter, and rodents to survive on, have also possibly killed peachicks, an internal report said in July. While this may be in line with the laws of nature, it has alarmed officials since the peacock is India’s national bird.
The report cited above referred to the peacock’s status to underline its concern about the cats. “Peacock is the national bird and it is very unfortunate that they [peachicks]... are being killed by cats, that too, inside the Parliament House complex,” said the report by K Srinivasan, a director at Parliament who has been informally tasked to oversee the cleanliness drive.
None of the 14 officials and workers HT spoke to had ever seen a cat killing a peachick, though many believed it must be so -- prompting a decision that the cats have to be removed from the complex. One official said four peachicks were hatched in the complex two months ago, but now there is just one left.
But getting rid of the cats is proving to be easier said than done. Rajendra Sharma, a manager with the Bharat Vikas Group, which provides maintenance services to Parliament, said the felines have been winning the battle so far. “They [cats] are too smart. After many attempts, we hardly get one cat.” He said he has not kept a count of how many cats they have been able to catch. “Not many, I can confidently say.”
The Bharat Vikas Group has now put up traps in key areas, such as in the store, to catch the cats. On Friday, one such trap could be seen on Parliament’s first floor near the press canteen.
The cats that have been caught so far, lured by pieces of meat kept inside the traps, have been released in the Delhi Ridge over 11km away, another official said.
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla has been keen to ensure a cleaner Parliament complex, though his office is not involved in the cat relocation exercise.