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1.Smt Kamaljeet Sehrawat

Mayor

South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC)

Flat 132, Guru Apartments

Plot # 2, Sector 6

Dwarka

New Delhi 110 075

 

 

2.Dr. R B S Tyagi

Director-Veterinary Services

South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC)

17th Floor

Dr. SPM Civic Centre

Minto Road

New Delhi 110 002

 

 

3.Dr. Puneet Kumar Goel

Commissioner

South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC)

17th Floor

Dr. SPM Civic Centre

Minto Road

New Delhi 110 002

 

 

04.04.2018

 

Caution & Correctional Notice

Without Prejudice

 

This is in reference to the following articles which appeared in the New Delhi editions of leading mainline publications/newspapers regarding imposition of fines on pet owners who walk and relieve their dogs in the open:

 

1.Navbharat Times (dated 22-3-2018),

2.Hindustan Times (dated 24-3-2018)

3.Time of India (dated 24-3-2018)

4.Indian Express (dated 01-04-2018) 5. https://thewire.in/economy/india-cess-day-keeps-governance-away

 

Against these articles, statements in public domain by the Mayor and her declared intent, the undersigned, is putting you to notice as follows:

 

1.The undersigned is a co-petitioner in the ongoing matter before the Hon’ble Supreme Court rulings dated January 24, 2009 (Animal Welfare Board of India Vs People For the Elimination of Stray Dogs, Record of Proceedings 265025) Vide SLP (C) 691/2009 and hereby considers it his duty to inform and warn you of the legal consequences of this action initiated by your office.

 

Kindly note that:

 

1.The proposed rule is autonomous, undemocratic and in contempt of the Hon’ble Supreme Court. In 2009 the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) had, in detail, submitted before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India deficiencies of the Municipal Acts all across the country. AWBI detailed how these municipalities violate central acts and constitutional rights of animals and humans. Following the initial arguments the hon’ble judge stayed the implementation of contestable aspects of the municipal acts all across the country, that deal with dogs. Since the DMC and other acts don’t distinguish between pets, strays, semi adopted (no classification) dogs, the stay applies to all rules associated with dogs, in this particular case. Hence, this case is sub-judice in the apex court.

 

You may further note that the hon'ble bench vide a series of interim orders between 2015 and 2016 reiterated this stay order so that no confusion remains and has thus categorically restricted all municipal corporations from implementing whole or parts of municipal and state acts that concern dogs (strays as well as pets) until the hon'ble court announces final judgment on grave conflict matters related to constitutionality of the central and municipal acts. The same bench has restricted all States via their Chief Secretaries, to refrain the state from taking any measures that conflict with rights of dogs as well as violate central acts and provisions of the constitution. Even the Hon'ble High Courts of every state have been restricted to entertain any PIL related to dogs.

 

In view of the above, if a statutory Government body headed by you, at your initiation and your instructions, ignores or contravenes or attempts to circumvent the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s orders, you will be in open violation and contempt of the apex court.

 

2.Until the time conflicts with the law are sorted out, amending a stayed act is illegal.

 

3.Historically, when SDMC announced mandatory on-line pet registration with clauses of impounding pets, we had filed RTIs with SDMC and the latter had to agree that the same was unconstitutional therefore void.

 

4.In addition to this, another case, Civil Appeal No. 5387 of 2014 & SLP 11686 of 2007, via the final judgment, has detailed out the five rights of animals that cannot be violated by any by-law, rule of the municipal or state acts. That order also mentions how municipal acts/ laws that violate any of these rights should be considered annulled and cannot cause subjugation of rights of animals and animal owners. Since SDMC has not made any social infrastructure provisions for pets and their owners, this new rule openly violates directions of the apex court and is yet again on the second account, in contempt of the apex court.

 

5.As per many other Hon’ble High Courts of India, dogs are companion animals, are a part of family/community. There are also orders that substantiate the same and save pets from any discrimination, including right to use property, space, etc. Imposing such restrictions on pets without providing alternative dog parks, pet relieving areas and walking trails at every ‘cluster’ level, violates the fundamental rights of citizens and directive principles of state policy, besides violating rulings of all the several courts.

 

6.The proposed fine in question is an indirect tax that SDMC seeks to illegally impose on pet owners. High Courts across the country have time and again given orders restricting RWAs, State governments to put separate taxes on pets and owners for using properties and public spaces. Since all tax payers pay municipal taxes for maintenance and management of solid and sewage waste, SDMC can’t impose a punitive double tax on citizens for pets that are family members. Delhi Municipal Corporation Act (1955) clearly states that keeping the city clean is the responsibility of the MCD. Citizens pay property and other taxes to MCD for this. No punitive tax/

fine can be imposed over and above existing taxes. It would conflict with the mandate of Municipal Corporation and their duties.

 

 

7.There is ample evidence to prove that SDMC has not yet worked out or implemented a ‘Comprehensive Open Defecation Free’ plan. Regular, widespread, wanton cases abound of not only creating un-hygienic conditions, but also public hazards and environmental destruction which cause loss of health, loss of life, loss of sustainable living and are a direct violation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030 of the United Nations to which India is a signatory and bound to observe. You are aware of the widespread encroachment and destruction of natural groves, water bodies. Of construction, industrial and even bio-medical waste in the areas you represent. As a public representative you are cognizant of the en masse malba dumping Government agencies like DDA/ MCD, waste burning by SDMC workers, open human defecation, littering, garbage dumping, excessive use of plastic and resultant chocking of the soil, illegal factories and conversion of residential premises into commercial establishments, illegal colonization, besides the steep rise in cognizable crimes.

 

8.The SDMC has failed to provide even licensed animals like horses, cattle etc any provisions for proper up-keep and sanitation. Sewage and waste management is still unaddressed in most colonies of SDMC. While your projects include futile and unsustainable beautification of parks and roundabouts every season with no accountability of the taxpayer’s money, there is no effort to streamline these ‘Social Infrastructure’ needs as prescribed in the master plan. It is open to interpretation why under the present circumstances, when your jurisdictional ODF plan is a failure, there is an un-natural bias towards pets. This is underlined by the fact that sanitation is completely your responsibility for which citizens already pay taxes. There is reason to question why amidst so many illegal activities and non-performance of the SDMC, including real issues impacting citizens, you would chose a frivolous topic of pet dogs to be the main reason for Swachata being allegedly compromised. This is breach of Directive Principals of State policy.

 

9.As per the UDPFI Norms and DDA Master Plan, which are both legal documents that bind SDMC , the corporation has to provide Social Infrastructure from cluster level to district level, which includes special facilities and amenities for animals. The norms of UDPFI as based on human population distribution and not area. SDMC area is acutely deficient of the same. In the absence of such fundamental legal amenities, the SDMC has no right to impose any rule or fine that restricts movement and freedom of pets and their owners. This would amount to harassment and unjustified questionable deployment of official resources while ignoring critical and core issues.

 

10.The Informal sector in India, that contributes substantially to our economy, includes hawkers, rickshaw pullers and other economically weaker section of society. These people adopt street dogs as pets and help SDMC in their sterilization, vaccinations and controlling conflict. This new law is a straight way to harassment of these people by your municipal workers. The semi adopted street dogs that are now protected by the orders of the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi, and the Hon’be Supreme Court of India, will be directly affected by this. The SDMC staff/workers will harass and extract money from this EWS, BPL section in the pretext of this new law. As a result the poor will suffer along with the community animals. You may have a personal view against the existence of both on the streets, but this is not what our Constitution, the laws or the apex court support. Hence this law will also violate Constitutional provisions of the underprivileged and the urban animals that are detailed out by the apex Court.

 

11.The Delhi Municipal Corporation Act is not comprehensive and has no legal by-laws to support this new rule. These are obsolete and were drafted by the British. Since the Hon’ble Supreme Court

is reviewing them in detail, SDMC cannot amend, apply or enforce the act concerning dogs in any way.

 

12.SDMC collects millions of rupees already under Swachh Bharat Cess. This is the tax we are paying for keeping our cities clean, besides the core municipal taxes. SDMC can’t induce double taxation.

 

13.The fine for human defecation is Rs 50. On what basis does the SDMC seek to levy Rs 500 from pet owners ?

 

14.The SDMC Mayor has issued statements threatening pet owners that they will be “Hauled up” if they don’t pay the fine. This public intimidation is direct threat to pet owners and can be inferred to mean that they should either abandon their pets or they will be physically assaulted.

 

15.SDMC has purchased 5 acres of land in Dwaka for a pound. Do you propose to keep impounded dogs (pets and strays) there, in violation of the law and in contempt of the Hon’ble Supreme Court orders.

 

16.In general any punitive measures only lead to rampant corruption. Municipal workers that will be given the power to fine would have a new source of illegitimate income

 

17.This new rule has created a divide in society. People who keep pets consider them as their own children. After these news reports RWAs are already restricting movement of pets within and outside campuses. Notices are being issued to pet owners. Social friction induced by this new law will become the reason for community conflict. This would clearly increase daily level conflict and create additional unmanageable law and order situations. Pets and their owners are already coming under immense stress, as you have tried to restrict their “Basic Needs”.

 

18.A large section of society consists of animal lovers. Compassion, respect and co-option of all life is a civilizational and religious value in India and enjoined by the Constitution of India, Article 51 (a) . A large number of citizens have been assisting MCDs in controlling population, aggression and diseases of animals via the ABC AR program. Under the leadership of the previous Mayor, a lot of work has been done to make South Delhi rabies free. Animal people even spend large sums of money from their pockets to support SDMC. They are shocked to see that the same SDMC is turning against them. This new fine is a proof of the fact that you are indifferent towards a large section of society. India has a growing pet care industry of over 800 million dollars. With more and more pet clinics, spas, hotels, boarding opening in large numbers in every colony, you can imagine how many people are turning into animal lovers. As an elected public representative and as public servants, of the largest corporation of Delhi, you should not choose to ignore the sentiments and needs of such a large section of society. This arbitrary tax is discriminatory.

 

It is critical that any public servant’s role be characterized by fairness, an appreciation of natural justice, a long term, multiple stakeholder view, and in accordance with the Service Rules which govern such positions. It is hereby conveyed, that the SDMC’s new modified pet by laws are illegal, impractical, discriminatory. They are a potential form of harassing pet owners and animal lovers, creating additional avenues for corruption, abuse, conflict and misuse of the taxpayer’s money.

 

Therefore, you are put to notice to kindly immediately restrain your office from amending the existing act till the time the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India gives its final judgment in this matter. If your office persists with this proposed rule, we would be compelled to initiate contempt proceeding against you. Please be further informed that this notice is without prejudice to the rights and contentions of all the pet owners to take appropriate action against you in the appropriate court/courts of law and you will personally be liable for cost and consequences there upon.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Amit Chaudhery | Rishi Dev

 

 

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BEWARE, INDIA'S KILLER TRACKS

Thursday, 19 April 2018 | Hiranmay Karlekar | in Oped
 
 
Beware, India's killer tracks

It is ironical that while elephants have been declared India's national heritage animals, their slaughter in train accidents continues

It has happened again, elephants being killed by speeding trains. According to a report, on April 16, four of them, including two calves, were mowed down by the Howrah-Mumbai Mail smashing into a herd in Odisha's Jharsuguda district. Needless to say, the customary trading of charges between the Railways and the State forest department has begun. While a spokesman of the former has said that the latter had not informed them of the herd’s presence Odisha forest minister, Bijaysree Routray, has stated that an advisory had been sent between April 11-14.

The place between the Bumrah and Bagdihi railway station, where the accident occurred, comes under the South-Eastern Railway's Chakradharpur division. The Railways have ordered a divisional railway manager-level probe. The Odisha forest department has ordered its own investigation. One hopes that the outcome will not be two reports with radically different conclusions reflecting the respective stances of the two ordering authorities.

The record of the Railways, however, is such that the needle of suspicion for culpability points to it. In one instance, the Chennai-bound Coromandel Express hit a herd of elephants in Odisha's Ganjam district on December 30, 2012. It was, according to Khallikote forest range officer Bijoy Kumar Hota, travelling at a speed of between 115 to 120 kilometres per hour considering the impact, which scattered the bodies of the elephants hit, here and there around the track, and pieces of carcasses over a distance of half a kilometre. Besides, it occurred in an area where elephants crossed the railway line regularly. There were as many as 10 signboards, warning that it was an “elephant crossing zone” between Rambha and Huma stations where the accident occurred.

In another instance, the Jaipur-Kamakhya Kavi Guru Express ran into a herd of 40 elephants at Jaldhaka bridge in north Bengal's Jalpaiguri district, killing seven of them including two calves, and seriously injuring at least 10 on November 13, 2013. The then West Bengal Forest Minister Hiten Burman had said after the accident that the Railways had repeatedly ignored requests from his department to reduce the speed of the trains in areas where there were elephant crossings.

In both instances above — as in most other cases —the State Government’s forest departments have blamed the Railways. One can possibly argue that the former was wrong and the latter being right in a particular case. Surely, the  State forest departments located in disparate parts of India, cannot be wrong — and the Railways right — in each, or most, cases. A recent case holds this true. In February 2018, five elephants were killed roughly 250 kilometres north of Silchar in Assam by a train whose driver ignored frantic waving of torchlights by villagers indicating that a herd of elephants was on the tracks. Not only that, he was travelling well above the speed limit for the area to make up for the fact that the train was running 10 minutes late!

This is not to say that forest departments personnel of State Governments have never been at fault. Stern action needs to be taken against them whenever they have been remiss. The Railways, however, have to bear the main burden of the blame as long as they refuse to reduce the speed of trains, not just at elephant corridors, but all areas where large numbers of elephants are found. The Indian Railways, which has one of the largest networks in the world with 115,000 kilometres of tracks over routes totalling about 65,000 kilometres (in 2014), traverse many such areas.

The matter is important given the regularity with which the trains are killing elephants. According to the report of the Elephant Task Force, Gajah: Securing the Future for Elephants in India, submitted on August 31, 2010, train accidents had killed as many as 150 of these behemoths since 1987. Thirty six per cent of these occurred in Assam, and 26, 14 and 10 in West Bengal, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand respectively. Tamil Nadu accounted for six per cent, Uttar Pradesh and Kerala three each, and Odisha two.

The killings continue. According to the Union Environment Ministry data, train accidents killed 120 of them between 2009-10 and 2016-17. This is so ironical. Elephants have not only been declared India's national heritage animals but the Railways have themselves have adopted the Asian elephant as their mascot!

(The writer is Consultant Editor, The Pioneer, and an author)

 

Here is a petition to sign as well

 

https://ladyfreethinker.org/petition-sign-stop-elephants-killed-trains-india/

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Once again, stray crimes in Kerala

The campaign for the ‘elimination’ of street dogs reflects a desire for mass murder. The need is to implement the ABC programme which has successfully brought down dog populations wherever it has been enacted

Yet another campaign for mass slaughter of stray dogs is reportedly under way in Kerala and, this time, it is said, the plan is to extend it throughout India. According to reports, staff and students of schools are being mobilised and signatures are being collected for the elimination — in practice mass killing — of stray dogs.

Unfortunately, there has been no mentionable public protest against the campaign by animal lovers either in Kerala or elsewhere in the country, which contrasts sharply with the uproar triggered by the large scale killings of stray dogs in Bangalore and some other parts of Karnataka in 2007. This is perhaps because Karnataka had then several organisations like the Compassion Unlimited Plus Action (CUPA), Animal Rights Fund (ARF), Krupa and Karuna and a strong animal welfare movement which not only protested locally but appealed to animal activists all over India for help. Kerala has nothing comparable.

The second factor may well be the difference in the situation on the ground. In Karnataka, the uproar was so loud because the killing had started and was officially conducted. In Kerala, the killings that occur are on a much smaller scale and officials deny involvement.

Besides, implicit in the campaign under way, is a demand for killing; there is no actual killing. Many seem to believe that there will be no mass killing as it would violate the law of the land. The Animal Birth Control (Dog) Rules 2001 and Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Amendment Rules 2010, promulgated under The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960, prohibit the killing of stray dogs. Under the Rules, stray dogs can be removed from their usual dwelling places only for neutering and vaccination against rabies and, both done, have to be released where they had been taken from. Besides, the Rules are in consonance with the method of controlling stray dog populations recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

In its Technical Reports Series 931, the WHO’s Expert Consultation on Rabies, held in Geneva from October 5 to 8, 2004, identified three practical methods of dog populations management — “movement restriction, habitat control and reproduction control.” As stated in Guidelines for Dog Population Management, issued jointly by the WHO and World Society for the Protection of Animals in 1990, movement control meant preventing restricted or supervised dogs or family dogs from cutting lose to either mate or merge into the stray dog population. As for habitat control, each habitat has a specific carrying capacity for each species, including higher vertebrae like dogs, determined by the “availability, distribution and quality of resources (shelter, food, water) for the species concerned.” Effective removal and management of garbage, for example, would eliminate an important source of food for stray dogs. The Guidelines further state that the only way of ensuring reproduction control was a serious, nationwide implementation of the ABC programme. 

The Technical Report Series 931 says, “Since 1960s, ABC programmes coupled with rabies vaccination have been advocated as a method to control urban street male and female dog populations and ultimately human rabies in Asia. The rationale is to reduce the dog population turnover as well as the number of dogs susceptible to rabies and limit aspects of male dog behaviour (such as dispersal and fighting) that facilitate the spread of rabies. Culling of dogs during these programmes may be counterproductive as sterilised, vaccinated dogs may be destroyed.”

Referring to killing, the Guidelines categorically state, “All too often, authorities confronted by problems caused by these [stray] dogs have turned to mass destruction in the hope of finding a quick solution, only to discover that the destruction had to continue, year after year with no end in sight.” The Guidelinesfurther state that killing was practised in the past to a large extent “simply because knowledge of the composition and dynamics of dog population” as well as “crucial data on the density, composition and turnover of dog population” were lacking.

The Guidelines emphatically add, “Removal or killing of dogs should never be considered as the most effective way of dealing with the problem of surplus dogs in a community; it has no effect on the root cause of the problem, which is the over-production of dogs.”

Experience also underlines the futility of large-scale killing. In almost all urban areas in India, regular, large-scale killing of stray dogs, from the time of the establishment of municipal bodies to the promulgation of ABC Rules, could not prevent a continued increase in their numbers. Dr JF Reese writes in Dogs and Dog Control in Developing countries, “In Delhi, a concerted effort at dog removal killed a third of the straying dogs with no reduction in dog population.” In his paper. “ABC responsible for decline in human rabies cases”, Dr Chinny Krishna, co-founder of the Blue Cross Society of India, cites the instance of the Madras Corporation’s “Catch-and-Kill” programme that started in 1860. He quotes Dr Theodore Bhaskaran, a former Post Master General of Madras (and author of Book of Indian Dogs), as stating in an article, “In 1970s, the number of stray dogs destroyed by the Corporation was so high that the Central Leather Institute, Madras, designed products — such as neckties and wallets — from dog skins.” Dr Krishna has pointed out elsewhere that the number of dogs killed by the Corporation had risen to 30,000 per year by 1995. Yet the dog population and incidence of rabies in the city continued to rise.

It has been the same experience the world over. Dr Reese writes in Dogs and Dog Control in Developing Countries, “In Hong Kong approximately 20,000 dogs were killed by the Government and another 13,000 by welfare organisations every year…with little impact on the free roaming dog population. In Equador, the elimination of 12 to 25 per cent of the dog population every year for five years did not reduce the dog population (WHO 1988). In rural Australia, a 76 per cent reduction in free roaming dog population failed to drastically reduce their population, and the number of free-roaming dogs returned to their pre-cull level within a year (Beck 2005). In Kathmandu, street dogs have been poisoned for at least 50 years with little long-term effect on the population.”

On the other hand, the ABC programme has successfully brought down dog populations wherever it has been seriously implemented. In India, Jaipur and Chennai provide good examples. The answer clearly lies in stepping up its implementation and not mass murder of stray dogs. Unfortunately, there are people who cannot recognise facts and reason. Their basic emotion is hatred born of fear whipped by frenzied, highly-exaggerated propaganda about the “deadly menace” stray dogs pose to humans. The fact is that humans pose far greater threat to fellow beings than animals, including stray dogs. Erich Fromm writes in his epic work, The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness, “Man’s history is a record of extraordinary destructiveness and cruelty and human aggression, it seems, far surpasses that of man’s animal ancestors, man is in contrast to most animals, a real “killer.’” The campaign for the mass slaughter of stray dogs underlines how right Fromm is.

(The writer is Consultant Editor, The Pioneer, and an author)