The PMC came up with the ‘Shwan Van’ project to alleviate the stray dogs problem in the city and this special shelter will house strays that are shifted out from the city.
The animals will be fed and provided other necessary facilities and an isolation ward will also be created to house and treat diseased dogs. The Standing Committee approved the proposal yesterday, which was proposed by corporators Sheetal Sawant and Sunil Gogale on October 1.
Baburao Chandere, chairman, Standing Committee, said, “We have received complaints from 76 wards of the city. Currently, the Health Department of PMC catches 25 to 30 diseased stray dogs per day and admits them to Naydu Hospital. But after treatment, these animals are usually released. There are around 40,000 stray dogs in the city and these are creating problems, especially during early morning or late at night.”
He added that the proposal was rejected in 2008 when Sham Deshpande was chairman of the Standing Committee, as it was violating the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. Meanwhile, former corporator Ujwal Keskar felt that the proposal was not a priority.
“I think PMC should give priority to people and not dogs. The proposal of a night shelter for people is pending and not getting implemented, while on the other hand PMC is ready to spend crores on a stray dog shelter,” Keskar said.
The state government, following Supreme Court directives, had urged the civic bodies to create night shelters for the homeless in their jurisdictions.
Going by the set norms, there should be one shelter for every 1 lakh population. Therefore, the PMC plans to have 38 night shelters, with each with capacity to accommodate 100 homeless persons. The first such shelter is proposed to come up at the parking lot near the city railway station.
The ‘Shwan Van’ however, is set to be a permanent shelter for stray dogs with dedicated staff. However, the Health Department of the civic body has taken strong objection to the shelter proposal. They even brought up the budget issue, which is expected to be Rs 123.20 crore per annum.
Not really needed
Dr Somnath Pardeshi, acting health officer of the PMC said, “The proposal is not practical. Maintenance cost will be around Rs 18,000 to Rs 25,000 per dog per annum. Also, according to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, dogs cannot be confined to the one place all the time. There is no need of a shelter. We are sterilizing 5,000 dogs per year, so in next four to five years, stray dog numbers will be well under