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Mumbai housing society to charge pet owners Rs 50 a month

Not only will animal-loving residents have to pay the charge for each of their pets, but also for each stray cat and dog on the premises, or risk getting the animals evicted 

While housing societies are known for authoritarian and bizarre rules, this one probably takes the cake.

Catty affair: Shivdutt Halady with his cat and some of the strays. Pic/Shadab Khan
Catty affair: Shivdutt Halady with his cat and some of the strays. Pic/Shadab Khan

A housing society in Tardeo has decided to not only charge Rs 50 per animal per month for families keeping cat and dogs as pets, it has also asked animal lovers in the society to shell out the same amount for each stray within the premises, or risk having the animals evicted. While the rule applies to both cats and dogs, residents say it is aimed mostly at the former because of the 25-odd stray cats on the premises.

The Talmakiwadi housing society in Tardeo passed a resolution to this effect at the annual general body meeting on Sunday, and the decision has not only led to pet owners and animal lovers going up in arms, it has also baffled society members in general, who claim that the cats have not been causing any problems to anyone. The society has 245 flats and more than 450 residents.

Stating that the resolution may be illegal (see box), Advocate Vinod Sampat said, “Any person can keep a pet as it is mentioned that they are members of the family and there is a court judgment on the same.”

Speaking to mid-day, society resident Shivdutt Halady, who has had a cat as a pet for the last 16 years, said, “This resolution is illegal to the best of my knowledge. How can the members pass a resolution demanding Rs 50 per month from my family just because we have a pet cat and, along with some other families, are looking after 25 other stray cats who are not causing any trouble to anyone. I have already contacted many NGOs and they have told me that the society’s demand is wrong.
Some of them said that that whoever tries to evict the stray cats and dogs from the society premises may have to face legal action.”

Near-certain death
“If the society forces the cats out, there is a good chance of them dying by being run over by cars or from starvation as these felines have no experience of living on the roads and hunting for their food,” said an animal loving resident.

Another resident said, “There are some people who hate pets and this resolution was passed by them. There was an issue earlier because the sterilisation of some cats had not been done and their number was multiplying, but there have hardly been any problems after that was taken care of. I don’t know why they want to take R50 per month from people just because they are keeping cats and looking after the strays. Is loving the helpless animals a crime?”

“I could not make it for the annual meeting as I was unwell, but I will be opposing this move. When there was a problem, I myself took the initiative and got more than 20 cats sterilised,” said Seema Pathak, an animal lover.

Halady and a few other residents have decided to contact the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) and take their help to resolve the issue.

The other side
Speaking to mid-day, Talmakiwadi Cooperative Housing Society Ltd’s Chairperson Nirmala Chikramane said, “It is true that the resolution regarding charging a fee from owners for keeping pets and looking after the stray cats in the society has been passed in the annual meet, but it is yet to be implemented. I don’t think we are doing anything wrong by charging the fee because many cats defecate within the premises and dirty the area. The charge is being levied as we have to pay the sweepers extra for calling them multiple times a day to clean up the mess.”

Many owners also lock their pets in the house when they go out, and the noise made by the animals causes inconvenience to society members.”

Asked about the clause regarding the eviction of the animals, Chikramane said, “We are also animal lovers and we will hand over the animals only to a shelter home or to someone who will take proper care of them. We are not agai-nst anyone keeping pets but our only request is that they should toilet train the animals so that the other society members are not inconvenienced.”

Activistspeak
Animal rights activist Sunish Subramanian Kanju from Plant & Animals Welfare Society (PAWS), Mumbai, said. “The resolution is wrong.  If someone forcibly releases the stray cats outside the society, they will be breaking the law. The pet lovers should write to the animal welfare board, which will take appropriate action.”  

Lawyerspeak

Advocate Vinod Sampat said, “The power given to the general body to recover money from members is for maintenance. A person staying in a society can keep one cat or a hundred cats and the society does not have the right to discriminate or charge differential rates. In my view, this resolution is illegal. The members of the society can challenge the resolution in the cooperative court and they can also go to the consumer court. They can also approach the Animal Welfare Board of India, which deals stringently with such cases.”

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