Informal breeding takes place, where pigs are left to feed on garbage scraps in vacant plots
Five men dressed in lungis and shorts stand in a vacant plot near the Saradha Gangadharan College in Kombakkam. One of them starts to make loud noises, akin to the barking of a dog, and a herd of tiny piglets come running out of the bushes and enter into the hamlet across the road.
The men try to trap a couple of them, but fail. They give up on the piglets and consult with each other before heading into the bush. Five minutes later, a much larger squealing pig jumps out into the open lot and the men chase after it. A long chase ensues, and finally the triumphant pig catcher carries the pig to the lorry, where another herd of 10 pigs has already been loaded. At the end of their hunt in Kombakkam, the pig catchers went away with over 45 pigs. This is the second time they have been employed as part of the Puducherry Municipality’s drive to reduce the pig population in residential areas.
For most residents in this area, the first thing they wake up to is a line of pigs with their babies running past the house. While the smaller pigs may look endearing, the larger ones are scary. Most of the children in the area are terrified to go out and play because of the pigs, Veeramma from Kombakkam said.
The pigs not only look scary, but they destroy all the plants and scour through the drainage on the road and make a mess of the entire area. If the residents chase them away, occasionally the pigs attack them and some can even bite. It is a huge nuisance, Kalaichelvi, another resident, said.
Early mornings and evenings are the worst times, but through the day the pigs roam the streets. Once in a while, there is a mini-van that arrives in the area and a few pigs are loaded and taken away. Unfortunately, the population is large enough for that not to make a difference.
Even on Wednesday morning, before the municipality officials arrived, a herd of pigs was loaded on to minivans from different areas in Kombakkam and taken away, she added.
According to a resident of Villianur, Arumugam, the number of pigs in the area had increased drastically in recent years. The residents had gotten together and submitted a petition to the Local Administration Minister, N.G. Pannir Selvam, and they had even met with the Chief Minister. So far, however, no action had been taken in Villianur, he said.
The Kombakkam area has a large population of pigs, which are left to breed in the vacant lots around the area. Apart from Kombakkam, pigs are found breeding in vacant plots in several areas across Puducherry. The owners of the pigs leave them in abandoned lots, let them breed and come occasionally and pick up a few pigs, Puducherry Municipality Veterinary Officer K. Coumarane said.
The number of pigs has increased because of greater demand. The breeding of pigs happens in a very informal manner, and most of the time they are just abandoned and forced to feed on scraps of garbage in the area. Sometimes the owners feed the pigs, but they are left to their own devices on vacant plots where they multiply.
The problem with pigs is that they not only ruin plants in the area, but also that they are carriers of many diseases that can affect humans. By abandoning the pigs in residential areas, they are putting the residents at risk, which is why the Municipality is trying to reduce the number of pigs in these areas. The most affected areas that come under the Puducherry Municipality are Velrampet, Kombakkam and Thengathittu area.
Unfortunately, when the owners of the pigs realise that the municipality is coming for a raid, the pigs are taken away temporarily and released back in the area once the officials leave, he said.