Tells High Court Rs. 11-cr. ABC programme is a hit, tells Supreme Court it is a flop

The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is now in a fix as it has now come to light that it had taken “contrasting stands” before the Supreme Court and the Karnataka High Court over tackling Bangalore’s stray dog menace.

This aspect was brought to the notice of a Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Vikramajit Sen and Justice B.V. Nagarathna on Thursday during the hearing on a batch of public interest litigation (PIL) petitions in the city.

Human and dog deaths

In his affidavit, BBMP’s Joint Commissioner (Animal Husbandry) claimed that the Animal Birth Control (Dog) programme and the Anti-Rabies Vaccination (ARV) was “effectively implemented over a period of time” in the city and it had “significantly decreased” the number of human deaths due to dog bite as well as death of dogs due to rabies.

However, Puttige R. Ramesh, counsel for the petitioners in one of the PILs, placed before the Bench a copy of the interlocutory application filed in August 2011 by BBMP’s Head of Legal Cell before the Supreme Court. He pointed out that BBMP’s claim before the apex court was “contrary” to what has been stated now.

It was contended in the application before the apex court that “there was no sign of reduction in population of stray dogs” even though the ABC (dog) programme had been implemented over a 12-year period, since 1998 spending about Rs.11 crore.

“Public money has been wasted on a wholly unscientific scheme [ABC],” the BBMP claimed in the application while pointing out that three children aged between 18 months and 8 died during 2007-11 after being attacked by feral strays. The application also pointed out that as many as 39 persons have died of rabies; and 1,56,958 instances of dog bites were reported during 2000-2010. Similarly, around 3.27 lakh dogs were sterilised under ABC programme and 61,301 dogs euthanised during 2000-2011.

Risk to human life

Pointing out that “India is the only country where animal activists are advocating the existence of stray dogs in public places at the risk of human life,” the BBMP’s application had also made a plea to the apex court that “the activists of animal welfare organisations and NGOs must be made legally and financially accountable, responsible and liable for the suffering and loss of life inflicted on the citizens by stray dogs”.

“At present, the ABC scheme covers only 15 to 20 per cent of stray dog population; but in order to be scientific, it has to cover 70 per cent of the population in six months before the next breeding season,” the BBMP stated while contending that ABC Rules 2001 are contrary to the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960.

The BBMP had also pointed out that the Ministry of Culture, which had framed these rules, had no knowledge or expertise in prevention of rabies, protection of animal health and prevention of cruelty to animals.

The Bench adjourned hearing to November.

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