Just over a year-and-a-half ago, Bengaluru had eight functioning Animal Birth Control (ABC) centres and the city was lauded for its Animal Welfare Programme.
In 2016, the city has only three functioning centres.
The reason is because the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike takes almost a year to clear outstanding bills and NGOs are unable to sustain the program due to cash crunch.
“The process of getting the payment is very difficult and the BBMP has cleared outstanding bills dating back to June 2014 only four days ago. We rely on donations made by people and private funding and hence we have not been able to pay our suppliers. Salaries must be given or the staff will not stay,” said Vinay Moray, Founder Trustee, Sarvodaya Sevasabha Samstha, one of the NGOs with a functioning sterilization centre.
“Even now, with the funds released by BBMP, we can only repay 75% of our outstanding bills to the suppliers,” he added.
Of the eight zones in Bengaluru, the North, West, Central, Peenya and Rajarajeshwari Nagar areas have no sterilization centre as they were all shut down during the course of this year.
Dilip Bafna, Trustee, Animal Welfare Fund, which shut down its ABC six months ago, said that the delay in payment has been a long struggle.
“We had to goad them a lot. Every time we went to check up on the status, they always had an excuse in hand. There have also been instances when they demanded bribes but there were also a few good officers who would eventually help us. But the struggle was way too much. We were not able to sustain the program only through private funding and so we had to shut down the program,” Bafna stated.
Moray also claimed that the officials contest the authenticity of reports certified by the investigating officer.
“After the sterilization is performed, we store the organs and every week, an inspection is done by a BBMP officer who certifies the report. This report is necessary for reimbursement of funds and we have to goad the BBMP to sanction the funds while they question the reports’ authenticity. For this, we had to shell out money from our pockets to install CCTV cameras,” Moray said.
Sandhya Madappa of Compassion Unlimited Plus Action (CUPA) said that the delay occurs because the outstanding bills submitted have to go through 18 different officers before the money is sanctioned.
“The BBMP does pay us eventually but it takes a long time. We had to manage with funds from other donations and since it was not possible anymore, we shut down the sterilization program in November, but we will continue it from December 15 because it affects stray dog population. The BBPM did finally clear part of an outstanding bill recently. Out of Rs 42 lakh, we have received Rs 24 lakh. The other amount is yet to be received,” Sandhya added.
As per the memorandum issued by the Animal Welfare Board, the BBMP has to install CCTV cameras in every sterilization centre, which it has not done.
Another major issue that has gone unnoticed is that the civic body has not been conducting awareness campaigns in schools.
“The BBMP hasn’t carried out awareness campaigns in schools since the last one-and-a-half years. The memorandum also states that the sterilization bills have to be cleared within a fortnight. This may be impractical but they have to clear it every month and the Joint Commissioner for Animal Husbandry has to oversee if the bills are being pushed every week. From 2007-2013 over 3.5 lakh strays were sterilized in Bengaluru. Now the number has come down to 20,186 from July 2013 to November 2016,” said Parvez Piran, Additional Director Animal Husbandry (Retd).
The current Joint Director, Animal Husbandry, was unavailable for comment despite several attempts of contact.