It looks like a posh Thane housing complex is taking no cues from anyone, not even from the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI). Despite the AWBI's letter to the District Registrar of Co-operative Societies on June 27, asking housing societies to lift restrictions on residents owning or strolling pet dogs, Westgate, one of the three societies at Lodha Luxuria in Majiwada, it seems it has not allowed pet owners to step out with the animals. Society members have also allegedly abused the pets brutally.
Anamika Deshpande, resident of Fairfield, with her pet Sparky
In December 2014, former resident Nirmal Valecha's Golden Retriever, named Angel, jumped into a natural pond, unused by residents, in the societies' common ground. "Things started escalating after a confrontation with objecting residents. The building's maintenance department threatened to stop services to my house if I didn't stop walking my dog," he claimed. Following this alleged harassment, Valecha and Angel, moved out of the society in the first week of June.
Similar instances have come forth from residents of other societies in Lodha Luxuria. Shree Deshpande, a former Naval officer and resident of Fairfield, faced a similar situation on June 23, when he was cornered by residents while walking his dog. his dog Sparky on the ground.
Colonel Ajay Gupta, chairperson of Westgate, however alleged that he was not aware of these incidents. "I will check and get them resolved. However, owing to the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, we just want pet-owners to maintain hygiene so that there is no littering in the society premises."
Deshpande retorted, "Residents have no cause to be miffed about pets littering either. At Fairfield, we have dustbins in place and all pet owners 'scoop the poop'.
When mid-day contacted the chairperson of Fairfield Jay Shukla, he said, "This has happened because of lack of awareness. We will post the rules issued by the AWBI for all to read and follow.” A Whatsapp group has been formed for the pet-owners to raise awareness of their rights.
Guidelines have been issued by the AWBI, which is a statutory body under the Ministry of Environment and Forestry. This is sheer violation of the guidelines. I have sent a letter to the society making them aware about the guidelines and the laws. Also, the District Registrar of Co-operative Societies has been asked to look into the matter and take appropriate action.
– Meet Ashar, Animal Right Activist