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No dog census in Delhi for 6 yrs; SDMC fails to get bidders

New Delhi :No official census of streets dogs in Delhi has taken place in the last six years even as SDMC, which is planning to conduct a fresh one soon in its area, failed to get any bidders for the exercise.

The last count of street dogs was done in 2009 for the then unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) which had pegged their population at around 5.62 lakh.

But, after its trifurcation into North, South and East Corporations (NDMC, SDMC and EDMC) in 2012, none of three civic bodies had taken up the exercise.

“We are planning to conduct a dog census in our area and, for that we had come out with the bidding. The last date to apply was August 10. Unfortunately, we have received no bidders,” Veterinary Director, South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), RBS Tyagi told PTI today.

The death of a seven-year-old boy in Jamia Nagar area earlier this month after being attacked by a pack of dogs has brought into spotlight the issue of street dog menace and safety of citizens in the streets, with both the Delhi High Court and National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) taking cognisance of the issue.

After the August 4 incident in south Delhi, the High Court had sought a report from SDMC on measures by it to curb dog menace in its area.

Recently, the NHRC issued notices to Delhi government and the Centre seeking replies from both on dealing with “human rights versus animal rights” issue.

Taking suo motu cognisance of media reports on the stray dog menace, the commission has called for a wider debate by the civil society on pitting human rights against animal rights “in a situation where human lives are at risk due to attack by animals”.

“Prima facie, it is of the view that human rights should weigh above animal rights in a situation where human lives are at risk due to attack by animals.

“However, this calls for a debate by the civil society,” the NHRC said.

According to Tyagi, “The last census was done in 2009 where the count stood at 5.62 lakh.”

However, a senior NDMC official said that the census was done by a private body and “not officially by the MCD”.

NDMC and EDMC are also understood to be contemplating conducting dog census in their respective areas but there is no official word on this from the two corporations.

While many people, who have been living in fear of streets dogs in dark streets, especially after the Jamia Nagar incident, allege lack of action on the part of the MCD, the corporations have claimed that they have sterilised several thousands of dogs in the past few years.

“From April 2012 to March 2015, SDMC has sterilised 47,140 streets dogs, which is nearly thrice the corresponding numbers for North and East Corporations.

“The individual figures are—April 2012-March 2013 13,393; April 2013-March 2014 — 14,349; and April 2014-March 2015 — 19,398,” Tyagi said.

The number of sterilised dogs for NDMC from April 2012 to June 2015 stands at 19,128 while the figure for EDMC stands at 19,206 from April 2012 to May 2015.

The number of death due to rabies in north Delhi in the last five years are — 2010 (15); 2011 (16); 2012 (18); 2013(12) and 2014 (20).

North Delhi Mayor Ravinder Gupta has said that the NDMC is much concerned about the “increasing” number of stray dogs in its area and is taking all possible steps to control and prevent dog bites or rabies cases.

None of the three civic bodies have sterilisation facilities and they partner with NGOs for this programme, following the norms of the Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules 2011 laid down by the Centre.

Tyagi said that though complaints of dog bites and dog menace are received, many times when the officials go for impounding, they have to “face resistance” from local people who feed these dogs.

“It is easy to blame us but in many areas people feed street dogs and do not allow us to catch dogs for sterilisation,” he said.

A day after the August 4 incident, SDMC had rounded up 41 dogs from the area, where the corporation claimed “it has sterilised 1,336 dogs in the last one year.”

“As per Animal Birth Control Rules, we are supposed to catch, sterilise and release the dogs back in the same area, where they were picked up from.

“And, we are trying to keep their number in check,” Tyagi said.

“Currently, we have 13 dog-catching vans and we are in the process of acquiring 10 more soon,” he added.

At present, the work of sterilisation and immunisation is done by partnering NGOs, but all three corporations are seeking to establish their own veterinary hospitals or sterilisation centres.

The NDMC said it is in the process of setting up its own sterilisation and anti-rabies immunisation centres at Sector-27 in Rohini and Lucknow Road, Timarpur.