Friday, January 16, 2009

2 million stray dogs in Srinagar by 2015

NASEER A GANAI
Srinagar, Jan 16: The Bombay High Court judgment asking Mumbai and Goa Municipal Corporation to use discretionary powers to kill dogs ‘that are found or reported to be a source of public nuisance’ has enthused Srinagar Municipal Corporation to go for the kill. 
 The Srinagar Municipal Corporation has been restricted from taking action against around hundred thousand dogs, that have bitten around 3772 persons in Srinagar city alone in 2008, by the animal rights activists who cite Cruelty Against Animals Act as reason and call for sterilisation instead. 
 The experts here are worried about the growing number of dog population. Dr Saleem Khan is the member Association for Prevention and Control of Rabies in India. He says “There will more than 20 lakh dogs in the City in next five years, given the population of dogs at this time is around one lakh.” “It means you have to do something now,” he said.
 A majority judgment of a three-judge constitutional bench- Justice S Radhakrishnan, Justices Dilip Bhosale and Justice Vijaya Kapse Tahilramani- of the Bombay High Court held that the civic chiefs of Mumbai and municipalities in Maharashtra and Goa could use their discretionary powers to kill ‘dogs which are found or reported to be a source of public nuisance’. The term ‘nuisance’ was dealt with at length by Justice Bhosale. He said that in the canine context, it would mean “anything which endangers human life or is injurious to public health”. 
 The Court held that the civic chiefs in Maharashtra and Goa could use their discretionary powers to kill ‘dogs which are found or reported to be a source of public nuisance’. Significantly, the majority view was that “no hard and fast rules can be laid down for what constitutes nuisance, but a continuously barking dog at night could well be called a permanent source of nuisance”. Significantly, under the BMC Act, even an abandoned pet dog of any pedigree, if not claimed within three days of ‘creating nuisance’ can be put to sleep under the discretionary powers of the civic chief. 
 In 2007 the Anti-Rabies Clinic of the SMHS hospital has reported 3772 dog bites. There are no statistical data available of dog bites and subsequent rabies deaths in Kashmir for last 20 years. 
 Dr Shafqat, the Health Officer SMC said even if you sterilize the dog, it doesn’t stop biting. “I think the Bombay High Court has given the direction and we must follow it if we want to save our children from the dog bites,” he told Greater Kashmir. He said the time has to come for eradication of the dogs. “The judgment is handy and time has come for the final decision,” he said.  
 The advocate general of the State, D C Raina, however has a word of caution. He said Bombay High Court judgment should be read with the provision of the Cruelty Against Animals Act and other Acts of the State. He said Jammu and Kashmir has its own laws and the Central Municipalities Act doesn’t apply in the State.  
 Though senior additional advocate general, Riyaz Hussain is in conformity with the views of the Advocate General, he has a caveat. He said the general principal in the Bombay High Court Judgment could be applied in case of Kashmir particularly when it comes to canine nuisance. He said even the Srinagar Municipal Act talks about dealing with the nuisance.   
 The additional advocate general said even in the Municipal Act of Jammu and Kashmir there is provision for disposal of mad and stray dogs and other animals in section 122 and 133 of the Act. The Act, he said casts a duty upon the municipal authority to destroy or cause to destroy stray dogs.
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