Where should stray dogs go, Delhi civic body asks citizens

New Delhi: Every morning, officials of New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) seek answers for a question sent through the social media network.

The idea is to get as many diverse views as possible on how to make the Capital a smart city, especially because 3D-mapping of all places, including buildings, trees, roads and sewers, has already started.

“We want responses from as many people as possible,” NDMC Chairperson Jalaj Srivastava had told reporters last month, at the start of the exercise.

On an average, each question gets a little over 500,000 answers from residents of the city. But Sunday’s question has baffled many in the city, as the NDMC wanted to know how to relocate the city’s 400,000 stray dog population, and if such a plan is pushed through, whether or not it would be better to have a dog sanctuary on the city’s outskirts.

Expectedly, the question has snowballed into a controversy, with dog lovers and dog haters on either side.

“Stray dogs need our sympathies, you cannot push them out of the city,” said Geeta Sen, who runs a pet hospital on the outskirts of the city. She felt the best way to handle the issue is “not to call it a menace”. “Dogs and people can stay next to each other,” added Sen.

Anu Aggarwal, a dog lover, called the NDMC move inhuman and unimaginative. “The best way to handle the situation is to check breeding and control population of stray dogs, not take them away and dump them,” said Aggarwal.

Others have lent their support to the NDMC.

“Stray dogs are a menace, and they need to go. If the NDMC is thinking of an alternative place for the animals, the move must be encouraged.

The issue of stray dogs in Delhi is a serious issue, there is nothing emotional about it,” said Gagandeep Bhatia, a resident of the Defence Colony neighbourhood.

Bhatia said a report submitted in the Delhi High Court stated that the dog menace was getting worse in the city. In the court, amicus curiae, advocate R K Saini, had blamed civic agencies, NGOs, dog lovers with misplaced sympathies for “allowing number of strays and dog bites to increase”.

“This is relocation, what is the problem?” asked Bhatia.

Senior South Delhi Municipal Corporation member Dhirendra Kasana said he found “nothing offensive in NDMC’s seeking peoples’ opinion to resolve a serious issue”.

Delhi will be a smart city with 18,500 LED street light poles with CCTV cameras to monitor and check crime, total WiFi in 2G/3G mode for all residents and will generate at least 4MW of solar energy by optimally utilising rooftops of government buildings.

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