By Shubhankar Chakravorty
BANGALORE (March 14)—A Right to Information request filed with the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike revealed that Rs. 160 million was allotted for animal birth control and anti-rabies vaccinations for street dogs over the last three years, but only Rs.84 million was utilized by the Animal Husbandry Department.
The report showed that far less money was used for the purpose of animal husbandry than was allotted.
|Year||Money allotted||Money utilized|
(Figures in millions of rupees)
The funds allotted for animal birth control (ABC) and antirabies vaccinations (ARV) have increased, and so has the amount utilized. Yet the animal welfare NGOs who sterilize and neuter street dogs on behalf of BBMP are either denied project expenses or funding is delayed by six to 10 months, they say.
Karuna Animal Welfare Association of Karnataka, Bangalore’s oldest animal welfare group, has not received funds for the ABC and ARV drives it does for the BBMP for over six months now, it says.
Karuna Animal Welfare Association has pending bills running over Rs. 900,000, but has yet to be paid by the BBMP.
“The BBMP is not sincere about the [ABC and ARV] programs since there isn’t money to be made out of it,” said N. Sudheer Kumar, secretary at Karuna. “If they could they would do away with the programs and cull street dogs instead.”
“We have done the ABC and ARV programs steadily and over a small area, that is why our outstanding fund is still low compared with other NGOs for whom it runs into millions” Kumar said.
“The BBMP has started delaying funds to NGOs for the last couple of years now,” said Ajay Kumar, assistant manager, Animal Rights Fund. “ARF has outstanding funds of Rs. 2 million yet to be cleared by the BBMP for months now.”
When asked about this, the joint director of the BBMP’s animal husbandry department, P.A. Piran said: “Funding is not a problem. Official work has got its downside and that is why it is being delayed, otherwise there is no problem.”
BBMP neglecting street dogs
Recently, the Animal Husbandry Department proposed restricting neutering of street dogs only to females. The objective was to reduce cost of the program.
The BBMP justified its stance by saying that since it is the females that breed, neutering should be focused on the females.
Sunaina Mullick of ARF said, “Animal NGOs around Bangalore were ready to withdraw their support from the ABC, ARV programs that they do for BBMP when the gender-specific neutering was proposed.”
NGOs and animal lovers from across the city protested against the move, and BBMP had to withdraw the plan.
BBMP recent decision of appointing NGOs to carry out ABC, ARV drives by inviting tenders was also heavily criticized by the leading animal welfare groups of the city.
“Street dog care is neglected by the BBMP because there is no scope for bribing or such here, since none of the leading NGOs will bribe the BBMP,” said Kumar of Karuna Animal Welfare Association of Karnataka. “But this method will invite the wrong people in the system and encourage corruption.”
Why is the delay in providing funds running into months? What is happening to the funds not released for street dogs? The animal welfare NGOs have no idea.
“I have seen dog bites incidents rising in my locality, and drives to sterilize and neuter the dogs have also gone down,” said Sneha George, who had come to the animal hospital with her pet dog for a checkup.
The high numbers of dog bite cases were supposed to come down long back according to experts like Kumar and Mullick, who say the BBMP is failing to address the cause.
Apart from this, the proposal drafted by them also demands that members of Sumangali Seva Ashram, a nonprofit voluntary organization registered under the Societies Act in 1975, should be treated as state government employees and their pension increased.
Also, the government should finalize a 50 percent reservation for Anganwadi workers. All the money sanctioned for Anganwadi workers in the year 2010-11 should reach their representative banks without any problems.
With the support of Centre of Indian Trade Union, the workers plan to present a memorandum to the Karnataka Women and Child Welfare Department.
(Published in The SoftCopy)