The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) landed in controversy last week after its pet licensing byelaws were approved. While public pressure has forced the civic body to not enforce them and maintain status quo, BBMP has come under fire yet again - this time, for three of its officials being booked for botching up the Animal Birth Control (ABC) programme.
PTI reported that Joint Director of Animal Husbandry Department G Anand, Assistant Director Basavaraj and Animal Birth Control Centre in-charge Abhilash Maddur were charged under section 11 (1) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act-1960 (mutilation or killing any animal in a cruel manner) and Section 428 (committing mischief of killing animal) and 34 (criminal act by several people) of the Indian Penal Code.
This came after an NGO, Civil and Green Warriors, complained to the Cottonpet police alleging irregularities in log sheet entries, dirty kennels, and even nipping a small portion of dogsâ€™ ears â€“ done to mark a dog as neutered â€“ without actually operating on them.
Geetha Mishra, an animal activist who filed the complaint, also said that dogs were being relocated to Kanakpura forest area so as to avoid detection of the BBMP officialsâ€™ lapses by locals. According to Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules 2001, it is illegal to relocate or kill stray dogs. Those picked up for neutering are mandated to be released in the same location.
Geetha said in the complaint that this illegal relocation was â€śattracting wild animals like Cheetah and tiger into the city limits, thus creating a dangerous unnatural animal-human conflict.â€ť
However, ABC Centre-in-charge Abhilash Maddur denied these allegations. He told PTI that they have photographic and video evidence to prove Geethaâ€™s claims wrong.
Meanwhile, BBMP Commissioner Maheshwar Rao told TNM that the BBMP has not taken any action against the officials named in the complaint yet.
â€śSomebody has filed the FIR and we do not know the details yet. Why should I take action now? We will wait for the police report and then take an appropriate action. I do not know the details,â€ť Rao said.
BBMPâ€™s poor record on ABC
This is not the first time that BBMP has come under fire on the ABC issue.
In December 2016 for instance, five Animal Birth Control (ABC) centres were in the city had to shut down because the BBMP failed to pay them over a yearâ€™s dues for running the ABC programme. Unable to survive only on donations and private funding, these centres shut shop, leaving only three ABC centres running.
ABC programs are important in combating rabies as well as controlling stray dog population. In fact, the Supreme Court observed in March 2017 that stray dogs have the right to live and that rather than culling, they have to be neutered to bring down the population in a humane and compassionate way.
Despite these mandates, Mili Gandhi, an ABC volunteer working with NGO Compassion Unlimited Plus Action (CUPA), pointed out that there is lack of intent from the BBMP in solving the problem.
â€śIt is not difficult for the qualified BBMP vets to implement the simple guidelines laid down by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI). We are simply asking them to do their job ethically and with compassion,â€ť she said.
Mili also argued that the BBMPâ€™s increased stress on quantity often results in decreased quality of these programmes. â€śContractors are penalised for not doing 800-900 number of sterilizations in a month and which inadvertently forces the contractor compromise in quality,â€ť she added.