Srinagar: The canine menace, prevalent in Kashmir for several years now, has become more grim with each passing day as successive administrations have failed to address this issue.
The lack of district-level initiatives for sterilisation of the stray dogs, has lead to multiple incidents of pedestrians and two-wheeler riders becoming victims of dog bites across Kashmir.
Earlier this year, a 10-year old boy was mauled to death by stray dogs in Baramulla’s Pattan and subsequently several incidents of dog bites have been reported from across the Valley.
While after every dog bite, there is always a huge public outcry, the Animal Birth Control ( ABC) program has remained on papers. Amid tall claims of the administration about preventive steps to control the growing stray dog population, many districts in Kashmir lack a program to tackle the growing dog population.
Baramulla is one of the many districts which have witnessed the canine menace looming large. Executive Officer, Baramulla Municipal Council, Imtiyaz-ul-Haq told Greater Kashmir that the district is lacking a program of stray dog sterilisation.
He said no infrastructure, manpower or machinery is in place to check the dog menace.
“There is no such program in place in Baramulla district. We are hopeful that the necessary steps will be taken soon. Not only in Baramulla but across other districts there is no such program in place. The dog population thrives on mismanagement of waste and we at BMC have pressed vehicles to collect waste at doorstep but lack of cooperation from the general population is making things worse,” Haq said.
As this north Kashmir district lacks any kind of dog sterilisation program like some other districts of Kashmir, in south Kashmir, the situation is the same with the locals decrying the growing dog population.
Last year an 8-year-old child was killed after dogs attacked him in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district. Meanwhile, the district Srinagar’s major dog sterilisation program is yet to witness completion.
An official from the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) said that the civic body is going to set up new sterilisation centres for the canine population. He said that currently, the infrastructure that is available for sterilisation "is at minimum capacity,"
“The SMC’s lone dog sterlisation centre at Shuhama is able to carry out sterilisation of around 15 dogs per day which is negligible as compared to the population of dogs in Srinagar. We are going to increase dog sterilisation capacity by setting up new dog sterilisation centers at Shuhama and Tengpora. We have finalised the majority of the work and hope the process will start soon,” said the official.
The officials at SMC said that after the completion of the new project, the civic body will have three more dog sterilisation facilities for Srinagar and the department will be able to carry out around 240 sterilization surgeries per day.
The officials said that the previous outsourcing process for dog sterlisation, wherein stakeholders from outside the UT were also roped-in, did not materialise.
They said that they have decided to outsource the process with some relaxation so that agencies will carry out the process without delay. “We have also identified the land in Srinagar to create one more dog sterilisation centre in Srinagar city and soon there will be a respite from the menace,” said the official.
This newspaper has in the past carried a series of news reports on the growing stray dog population in Srinagar and across other districts of Kashmir. In a recent conversation with Greater Kashmir, SMC commissioner, Athar Amir Khan said that the civic body will expedite the work on the dog sterilisation project. He said the tendering process has been completed and work on the project will start soon.
“The Shuhama sterilisation centre is also functional and we are identifying one more location at Chatrahama Hazratbal to establish one more dog sterilisation center. We are also floating separate tenders to empanel agencies who will carry out sterilisation of dogs”, Khan said.
Dogs have bitten around 58,869 persons in the last decade in Kashmir, which works out to 16 such cases on an average per day.
As per a report by the department of Community Medicines, Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar, around 58,869 persons were bitten by the dogs in the last ten years (2011 to 2021) in Kashmir. The people in Kashmir are pressing authorities to do more about the issue as the dog attacks have seen a rise in recent months.