Having more than a lakh pigs in Anantapur is seen as an advantage with they contributing to the cleanliness of the town

This district has now earned the dubious distinction of having more than a lakh pigs, but officials say this, indeed, is a blessing in disguise, as these grunters actually contribute to the cleanliness of the town.

Municipal Commissioner T. Rangaiah says the pigs roam around freely on the thoroughfares and help the town remain clean. With nearly forty per cent of the 55,000 houses in the town not having septic tanks, the toilet waste is directly let into the open drains and without the pigs, the town would virtually be unlivable.

Besides these, there are around 300 stray cows and an estimated 20,000 canines in the town which adds up to a bewildering human to animal ratio of 2.6:1.2.

If the cleanliness of the town is to be maintained, the corporation would have to build an underground drainage system, but that would cost a staggering Rs.340 crore, besides necessitating an increase in water consumption from the current 135 litres per person per day to 150 litres per person per day to ensure free flow of sewage. This could pose an altogether different problem in view of the acute water shortage the district is facing.

Pig-rearers have not responded enthusiastically to the government project ‘Project Varaha’, meant for helping the rears to shift the animals to a pig sty at an identified place. The sty currently has only 280 pigs. “Even these 280 pigs might be moved out in some time if the problem of food transport from the town is not sorted out soon,” says Sreeramulu, the coordinator for Project Varaha. Food waste from marriage halls and hotels is to be collected and sent to the ‘Project Varaha’, but that’s not happening any more.