Srinagar city has virtually turned into “dog capital” with population of 92,000 stray canines and these stray dogs sustain on the open garbage dumps in the city, waste disposals by the local municipal authorities having been utterly mismanaged.
The menace has reached to a level where some people are demanding the problem to be declared as law and order problem and if idea is given a thought, the problem is definitely involving law and order because it has dimensionally terrorized the inhabitants of the capital city and outskirts to the extent that people chose to stay indoors when dogs prowl in groups in the streets.
The threat is so serious that some localities become virtually out of bounds during evening hours when stray dog packs take over and patrol main roads in big groups. In most of the cases it has been the vulnerable school going kids who have become the prime targets of these stray dogs.
A PIL was moved in the J&K High Court on April 1, 2011 against the dog menace; the High Court on 28th April, 2011 directed the state government to provide funds for construction of dog ponds on the outskirts of Srinagar and directed the Municipal Authorities to complete the task within four weeks. The court also directed the authorities concerned to start sterilization program in phased manner after the canines were shifted to these dogs pond.
Though SMS started sterilization program in 2012 but constructing ponds for dogs is still a distant dream. People allege that the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) seems to have turned a blind eye towards the problem. A large number of people get bitten by these dogs on a regular basis. For children, it has become difficult to come out of their houses.
According to doctors, treating the people who suffer injuries due to dog bites, say that on an average 300 people are attacked by dogs every month and so for dozens have lost their lives which include a good number of infants and school going children of age group between 6 to 12 years.
2012 saw some novel protests in Srinagar city against growing dog menace including the one wherein a sitting MLA brought a truck load of stray dogs and made an unsuccessful attempt to free the dogs inside civil secretariat, Srinagar. Though the Municipal authorities claim of having brought the situation under control but the ground realities suggest that the threat from stray dogs is where it was in May 2012 when the government first started sterilization of stray dogs.
According to Srinagar Municipal Corporation, dog menace was really a big challenge and SMC has of course taken some measures to tackle this menace. An official said that on one hand, SMC has streamlined garbage dumping and has disciplined the garbage lifting system which was the major cause for growing of dog menace in Srinagar owing to the fact that stray dogs sustain on open garbage.
“We have placed order for 34 Hopper Vehicles and the vehicles are coming which would help in clearing the garbage as the vehicle is designed for carrying loose bulk matter efficiently,” said the official of SMC said adding that it would help in completely cleaning garbage collection spot on roadside automatically because garbage is automatically transferred into the carrying vehicle in traveling motion.
He said that apart from the sterilization program, the corporation was also working on improving sanitation and regular sweeping drives are organized. “This will lead to the shortage of food for dogs and their population from residential areas will decrease,” he said.
People from all walks of life have been protesting the issue since last two years but the government has failed in providing any solution to the problem. On the other hand, some NGOs have also been resisting any government move aimed at eliminating stray dogs which has compounded the problem.
But the fact remains that despite intervention of the high court the government has failed in constructing dog ponds and the Municipal Corporation Srinagar as in the case of keeping the city clean has failed in tackling the issue of stray dogs thereby risking the life of the people especially the infants. On a single day in summer 2012 over 50 cases of dog bites were reported from around Kashmir Valley with more than half of these incidents taking place within the city.
However, Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC), which announced a dog sterilization drive last year, seems to be helpless in dealing with the situation that has left the residents of the city in terror. People in the city have been demanding that the government should Sterilize and vaccinate these stray dogs to counter-check their increasing number and to prevent the spread of rabies.