Stray cattle rule the streets of the city

Corporation officials holding discussions with NGOs on tackling the problem

September 12, 2022 12:07 am | Updated 11:30 am IST - CHENNAI

Stray cattle cooling off on a road in Chennai.

Stray cattle cooling off on a road in Chennai. | Photo Credit: K. Pichumani

On September 8, a heifer was running amok on arterial Anna Salai, injuring a few motorcycle riders. The local traders, trying to control the animal, ended up meting out cruelty to it.

N. Usman Nazar, a local trader, who finally tied the animal to a pole, said the local police had asked him to catch the animal. “I tied the animal to a pole near the Government Estate Metro Station to prevent accidents on the road during rush hour. The police released the animal by 10.30 p.m. after the traffic had reduced on the arterial road,” he said.

Even as the Greater Chennai Corporation has the responsibility of controlling stray cattle, traders and residents seldom call 1913 helpline to complain about the cattle on the road, the officials said. A number of road traffic accidents have been reported in arterial stretches, because of stray cattle in the past few days, they point out.

Councillor (Ward 114) S. Madhan Mohan said residents had complained about stray cattle and officials inspected a piece of land near KrishnampetBurial Ground 10 days ago for the construction of a facility for stray cattle. Local MLAs in many constituencies in Chennai had proposed several steps to control stray cattle. But most of them have not taken off.

According to Corporation officials, each of the 15 zones in the Corporation have more than 1,500 cows and buffaloes, maintained by more than 100 families who depend on the cattle for their livelihood. Some of the families have been maintaining more than 200 cows and buffaloes in large pieces of land for many generations.

The 426 sq km of the city has more than 20,000 cows and buffaloes. A resident of Perungudi zone said the Corporation zonal office had prepared a list of all cattle owners with phone numbers in Perungudi to regulate them. Residents said the Corporation should create a WhatsApp group of cattle owners to rescue the cattle immediately as impounding a cow or buffalo had become unfeasible. For instance, residents of New Avadi Road have complained about a herd of more than 50 buffaloes blocking the road every day on their way to Otteri Nullah, to spend time in water. Residents said zonal officials were unable to control the stray cattle as one of the councillors’ family depends on rearing cattle for a livelihood.

The Corporation playground near Solaiammankoil in Ward 97 in Ayanavaram has more than 50 cows. Students who play in the neighbourhood have been injured by the cows and buffaloes, residents said.

Land encroached

Many families that rear cattle have encroached upon railway land for construction of the shed. Similarly, lands belonging to the Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (CMWSSB) have been encroached upon for rearing cattle in some areas.

S. Mangala Raj, former councillor, said traders in Mylapore had complained about blockage in the sewer network on Vadugu Idayar Street near Bazar Road, caused by the rearing of cattle on private land in the neighbourhood. “Those who rear cattle in Mylapore have large pieces of private land as they have been traditionally practising it for many generations. Initiatives were taken to control stray cattle after a woman died many years ago. Similarly, the corporation prevented rearing of cattle on the road only after traders protested,” he said.

The Corporation has planned to take steps to regulate stray cattle after increasing the manpower and modernisation of facilities for impounding stray cattle, officials said.

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