MUSICAL EVENING IN CITY WITH 91,110 STRAY DOGS

Admin on tips to keep canines away from VIP roads, Shalimar Bagh

M HYDERI

Srinagar, Sep 7: Apart from other concerns surrounding the Zubin Mehta concert held Saturday evening at Shalimar Bagh, something beyond the 3-tier security arrangements gave “sleepless” nights to the authorities: the presence of big number of stray dogs in Srinagar, which officially is 91,110.
Sources said the state government tried to keep the stray dogs away from the roads to be frequented by the VIPS, particularly the Boulevard, and Shalimar Bagh venue where a state-of-the art auditorium was erected over Mughal era fountains. Similar was the scene on the high security Airport Road.
They said the presence of scores of stray dogs at every nook and corner of Srinagar was seen as “eyesore” in the beauty of Srinagar, which hosted the visiting dignitaries including famed western classical music conductor, Zubin Mehta while the invitees included big names like Amitabh Bachan, Ambanis and Hollywood actress Kate Winslet.
During official meetings held earlier in connection with the concert arrangements some had suggested that the stray dogs shouldn’t be “visible to the guests driving down the City roads as it would send a wrong impression”. The concerned were asked to make every effort to “keep the stray dogs away” albeit with a rider that “no canine is harmed.” Though some had suggested that the dogs from such areas be rehabilitated elsewhere, the idea didn’t realize amid fears of public resentment.
Top sources said apart from the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC), which looks after the City sanitation, the Roads and Building Department was directed to remove all muck which had settled along the roads in surface drains.
Though in the yesteryears, this cleaning of dust and other dirt from the roadsides used to be a routine job of the then Roads Guards, the R&B reduced it to an exercise undertaken only ahead of some VVIP visits to Srinagar. Sources said the R&B was reluctant to clear the muck pleading that it was already cleared ahead of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s visit to Kashmir in June, this year.
“However, the department was told that the muck alongside roads was favorite sniffing point for stray dogs looking for food,” shared an insider.
While the R&B woke up to the mess, the SMC intensified its sanitation operations on roads leading to Shalimar Bagh as apart from frequent cleaning of dumper bins along the route, roads looked extra ordinarily clean. Apart from manual labor, sucker and compactor vehicles were pressed into service along the Boulevard.
Sources said special sanitation squads were kept on duty to keep City roads clean, primarily in a bid to keep stray dogs away. “At some places, unlike routine morning exercise, sanitation remained a round the clock affair,” said a lower rung SMC staffer requesting not to be named.
But the SMC Chief Sanitation Officer Hakim Aijaz denied that any special measure was being undertaken. “Keeping Srinagar clean and green is our routine duty. We didn’t undertake any special sanitation drive but went ahead with our daily work,” Ali told Greater Kashmir.
Even though the general perception is that over one lakh and growing dogs are on prowl in the City with 13 lakh human population,  some two years back a lawmaker from the ruling National Conference(NC) swore on the floor of the House that the exact number of canines is 91,110. Given the fact that the state government forbids killing of any stray dogs, the canine family must have swelled further since.
The NC-led government has often been accused of being seemingly more concerned towards the welfare of dogs than humans. Though over a dozen odd people, mostly children and women are bitten by dogs everyday and many have even died of rabies, the government has been reiterating that canines cannot be killed, not even rabid.
But the human dwellers of the City are even not allowed to stage protests against dog menace. “Last year, in October when civil society attempted to raise voice against the dog menace at historic Lal Chowk, police whisked them away disallowing any human protests against dogs,” recaps prominent social activist Imdad Saki.
The government concern towards dogs has been so prompt that in 2010, on mere “hearsay”, the government ordered a high level probe to check if any dog had been killed in the City. The time-bound probe was ordered by the then SMC Commissioner.
The ruling coalition pleads the “time consuming and costly” dog sterilization as only solution to the menace and has spent millions meant for human welfare on construction of state-of-the-art dog pounds.
But a million dollar question posed by the then Chief Justice FM Ibraheem Kalif Ullah remains unanswered in the courtroom: Will a dog stop biting after sterilization?

Lastupdate on : Sat, 7 Sep 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 7 Sep 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 8 Sep 2013 00:00:00 IST




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