It may be time to bid goodbye to these tongas

Soon, Mumbaikars may not see the horse-drawn carriages on roads as the Deputy Mayor of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), Mohan Mithbaonkar on Friday wrote to BMC Commissioner Sitaram Kunte, suggesting that they be rehabilitated outside the city.

Mithbaonkar has also suggested that the tonga and stable owners be employed at the 180 BMC kiosks that were set up through a private company seven years ago. The kiosks function as information centres for the public.

According the deputy Mayor, Mohan Mithbaonkar, horses pose a threat to the health of the citizens and are kept in dismal conditions themselves. File Photo

“The stables and tongas encroach upon public spaces, footpaths and areas near the sea shore. Horses are potential carriers of tetanus. Affected horses can spread the disease to people, too. Citizens of South Mumbai have complained that their health is affected,” said Mithbaonkar.

Last June, the NGO, Animals and Birds Charitable Trust, filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Bombay High Court. In accordance to the court order, a committee was set up to survey the stables and examine the health of horses. According to their report, out of 371 horses in Mumbai, 25-26 horses were kept in unhygienic conditions. “Apart from the stables in Gorai, Borivali and Malad, most other stable owners were not following the rules and regulations laid down by the BMC. According to Section 394 (4) of the BMC Act, we can confiscate the horses,” said Mithbaonkar. BMC Commissioner Sitaram Kunte said he was aware of the issue. “I have acknowledged Mithbaonkar’s request.

I will look into the matter and take a decision,” he said.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, Nukri, an eight year-old mare died because of the ill-treatment meted out by her owner, Raju Ghodewala. She was rescued from an illegal stable at Tabela Chawl, near Pila Haus in Kamathipura by YODA (Youth Organisation in Defense of Animals) three days before her death. She succumbed to her injuries at the BSPCA. A complaint has been filed by Mili Gandhi, a member of Mumbai for Horses, against the stable owner in VP Road Police Station. The owner blamed the hospital for her death. 

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