Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Woman complains as pups go missing

NAVI MUMBAI: Animal rights activists have complained to the Panvel city police about a case of animal cruelty at a housing society. 

While API Praful Bhindade, visited the SarangHousing Society in Panvel to investigate how 15 newborn puppies went missing from its premises, the society members have denied playing any role in removing the 15 pups from there. 

Talking to TOI, animal activist Rinki Banerji, said, "One Sunday, a society resident and senior citizen, Sumitra Gaikwad, noticed that 15 puppies that were born just around 10 days ago had gone missing from the society premises. She used to regularly feed the stray dogs in her locality, but other residents were opposed to it.'' 

In her complaint letter to the police, Gaikwad has also said some residents had intimidated her with sticks to warn her not to feed the stray animals. 

"Now, these 15 puppies have gone missing, and their two mothers who are lactating at present are tense and anxious. Separating babies from their mothers amounts to cruelty,'' said Banerji, who also plans to write to the Animal Welfare Board of India. 

However, a police official said the society's office-bearers have denied the allegation of throwing the 15 puppies out.

Bullocks, cattle rescue from illegal slaughter

MUMBAI: Animal rights activists have rescued 12 bullocks, 4 calves and a buffalo from a truck at Shahpur in Thane (rural). The truck was illegally transporting the animals for slaughtering.

The People For Animals (PFA) team lead by Chetan Sharma followed a truck which was taking animals illegally for slaughter. The team started following the truck from 9 pm in Thane (rural) area on Monday. The truck was illegally filled to its capacity with animals. The truck was finally caught at 2:44 am. Members of PFA complained to the zonal DYSP who then instructed one Inspector to catch the truck. Upon closer inspection they found, 12 young and healthy bullocks, 4 calves and 1 buffalo. An FIR has been registered at Shahpur Police Station.

"It is illegal to kill cows and calves in Maharashtra. It is also illegal to kill any cattle that can be used for agriculture or breeding. We, as a society, have turned our backs to cruelty against cows and bullocks for so long, that on a daily basis trucks are being brought illegally forslaughter and people just seem to turn a blind eye. Until we don't stop turning a blind eye these animals will continue to suffer,'' said Chetan Sharma of People for Animals.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Man's plea for release of his pet dogs dismissed

A city resident has been denied by a Delhi court the custody of his pets - half a dozen of dogs in all, seized by an animal welfare centre on the ground that they were suffering from various ailments and were not fit to travel back home.

Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) Ramesh Kumar turned down Model Town resident Amarpreet Singh's plea to release his dogs, dismissing his appeal against a magisterial court order which had upheld the seizure of the dogs by Sanjay Gandhi Animal Care Centre.

The sessions court said the dogs were not fit to travel due to reasons ranging from pregnancy to stress.

"One dog was having pregnancy and high temperature, two dogs with infection like vomiting and loose motion and other dogs were also having problems like stress, dehydration and temperature and also respiratory distress.

"As per Rule 5 of the Transport of Animals Rules, no dog in advance stage of pregnancy shall be transported. Hence, no case for release of the dogs was made out," ASJ Kumar said.
Singh's six pets had been taken away by the animal welfare centre at Raja Garden in West Delhi with the help of police on June 18 on the alleged ground that he treated them cruelly.

After seizure of the canine animals, Singh had approached a magisterial court for their release and his plea was even allowed, but neither the animal welfare centre nor police allegedly complied with the court order.

At this, he moved a magisterial court against the animal welfare centre and the police seeking launch of contempt of court plea against them for not complying with the earlier order. (More)

Green fodder banks to curb man-animal conflict

COIMBATORE: In a bid to reduce the growing incidence of man-animal conflict in Coimbatore region, the Tamil Nadu forest department plans to develop green fodder banks in key elephant populated areas in the district at a cost of Rs 3.45 crore.
According to district forest officer V Thirunavukarasu, green fodder banks would be developed in a total of 240 hectares identified in Solakarai near Walayar, Athikadavu near Karamadai, Sadhanakola and Odanthurai in Mettupalayam, Thanikandi in Boluvampatti, Koodapatti in Periyanaickenpalayam and Kulukumaduvu near Sirumugai.
Planting of trees would begin with the onset of the North East monsoon. Once the trees reach maturity, they will ensure rich fodder for jumbos during dry months. With adequate fodder inside the forest area, the animals will not be inclined to stray outside.
Saplings have already been developed in a special nursery at Mettupalayam. They include pipel, banyan, wild mango, wild jack fruit, bamboo and teak varieties. Seeds of two grass varieties will also be sowed in the forest areas. A few water ponds will be created close to the green fodder banks.
``Initially, we planned to plant the trees in June with the arrival of South West monsoon. But the failed monsoon changed our plans," said Thirunavukarasu. According to him, this is the first phase of the project and areas like Thondamuthur, Anaikatti, Kurudampalayam and Mangarai in the Western ghats will be included in it in the next phase.
The fodder bank idea was formulated after chief minister J Jayalalithaa suggested that steps be taken to ensure green fodder inside the forests. A government order in this regard was released on December 14, 2011 by principal secretary to government C V Sankar. The GO permits the forest department to create fodder plantations to improve wildlife habitats for a five-year period commencing January. The amount released for this purpose across is Rs 22 crore.
The project would focus on cultivating grass and trees of indigenous species. "There would be two kinds of plants and trees, those which can meet immediate consumption needs and those which moderately grow but ensure a permanent fodder bank,'' said Thirunavukarasu.
The department is also building salt licks near water holes in the migratory corridor to supplement the mineral requirement of elephants with the expectation that the jumbos will stay within the restricted migratory route and not stray into human habitations. Construction of check dams and percolation ponds will satisfy the thirst of animals in summer and also facilitate storage in water bodies, the official said.
"An adult elephant consumes 240kg to 260kg of food every day. It spends at least 18 hours grazing. Over 70% of its food needs are available in the reserved forest. In Coimbatore, the green bank will come up in 100 hectares in reserved forests frequented by elephant herds," said Thirunavukarasu.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

'Protected' bulls rescued

NAVI MUMBAI: Animal activists rescued 14 out of a total 34 bullocks from being illegally slaughtered on Tuesday. The animals had been ordered safe custody by a court recently. The 34 bullocks were rescued at Padgha in Thane-Rural area early on Tuesday while they were being smuggled from Dhule to Deonar in Mumbai by road.
Thane Rural police has arrested three persons and are also taking further steps against a Mumbai based butcher who violated the order of JMFC court in Sinnar to take 14 of the bullocks for slaughter.
PFA activist Chetan Sharma told TOI: We had received a specific tip-off that the 34 bullocks were being transported in three tempos forslaughtering. Most of the cattle has almost fainted at the time of rescue as they were badly cramped in the vehicles for the long, arduous journey to the abattoir.''
The police team led by Padgha senior inspector Kishore Pasalkar and sub-inspector Sneha Mehtar successfully intercepted the tempos with the live cargo and arrested three persons on the spot.The deputy superintendent of police (DySP) Thane-Rural Shrinivas Ghadge stated: This is a commendable raid and rescue of 34 large animals in our jurisdiction. We have confirmed that 14 of the bullocks were ordered legal protection by the court in Sinnar, near Nashik. Hence, the butcher now faces contempt of court proceedings.''
Sharma added that the Govandi based butcher, Mohammed Pasha, had earlier stated in the Sinnar court that he will take care of the 14 bullocks and produce them in front of the court whenever ordered.
A Sinnar based activist, VikasGunjal, had intercepted these 14 bullocks on August 16 this year while there were being taken for slaughtering.
The lawyer of PFA, Ambika Hiranandani, commented: Any person who commercially exploits animals - be it a butcher or a Victoria horse owner - cannot be trusted with the safe custody of animals. So, I appeal to our honourable courts to allow rescued cattle to be given to activists instead, so that they cannot be again sent for slaughter, as is seen in the Padgha case now.''
The rescued cattle have now been sent to a cow shelter at Bhiwandi.

Central Zoo Authority 's doublespeak on circus elephant to fore

NAGPUR: It's a classic case of how the Central Zoo Authority (CZA), a statutory body monitoring zoos and circuses in India, functions. First, the CZA issued orders to seize the Amar Circus elephant as it was not legally owned. But before any action could be taken, it itself legalized ownership with the circus owner.

The fact came to light when owner of Amar Circus Chandrakant Gadge sought to know under the RTI Act about list of circuses in India and record of elephants with these circuses, including their identification (microchip number).

Interestingly, acting on a complaint by animal rights leader Maneka Gandhi, a CZA team did spot inspection of the circus on June 25 at Nagpur and had submitted a report on July 25. The CZA report, copy of which is with TOI, states that the female elephant Padma is ill-treated. The team found fault on 13 counts, including the animal's upkeep.
The report said Padma was in illegal possession of the circus owner violating Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. The eight-member committee recommended the state's chief wildlife warden to seize the elephant immediately and send it to the rehabilitation centre where the animal would receive better care and get natural environment.

Besides, the circus owner was also asked to be booked by the chief wildlife warden and Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI). The AWBI was even told to cancel registration of Amar Circus. The CZA had also threatened to initiate legal action against the circus owner for concealing information about three elephants that had eventually died earlier.
In between, Gadge made several trips to the CZA, Delhi, to comply with conditions put forth by the committee in its report. On July 23, Gadge filed an RTI application seeking information on circuses and elephants housed in these circuses.

On August 13, in its reply, the CZA said there are 24 circuses operating in the country housing 84 elephants. Padma of Amar Circus also figured in the list, indicating the CZA had legalized its possession with Gadge. It seems the paper work was done between July 5 and 23. On one hand the CZA recommended action but on the other hand legalized the elephant ownership.

The RTI also revealed that some circuses like Jumbo, Moonlight, Gemini, Empire and Famous had more than five elephants. Sources said not all elephants were well kept. Yet, no action has been taken against these owners but Amar Circus was threatened with legal action.

Naresh Kadyan of People for Animals (PFA), Haryana, says elephant is a Schedule I animal under the Wildlife Act and its ownership cannot be exchanged for winning bread and butter and performances. The CZA has no answers to it.
"The decision must have been taken by the member-secretary," said B K Gupta, monitoring and evaluation officer with CZA.

Nikhil Dwivedi turns vegetarian

We have heard of celebrities suddenly shedding their claws and embrace vegetarianism, but actor Nikhil Dwivedi did it for a different reason altogether!
Nikhil who is apparently very close to his grandfather has given up non vegetarian food for him. It is so that his 87 year old grandfather was recently hospitalized and was administered only liquids through drips. And since he had always propounded preserving animals rights and organic foods, Nikhil who is attached to his grandfather,emotionally decided that day to give up on non-vegetarian food that he was so fond of.
And Nikhil seems to enjoy his vegan decision so much now that he has been telling his close friends and associates 'Turn on a new leaf. Try Vegetarian'. It's not just a passing dietary fad right now for him.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Centre committed to promoting eco-tourism: Jayanthi


Chennai: Union environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan today said the Centre is committed to promoting eco-tourism and has set up a committee to review guidelines for it.

"We are committed to promoting eco-tourism. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke about (setting up of a) National Board for Wildlife," she told reporters here.

The committee had been set up keeping in mind the need to ensure that forest dwellers were not affected by eco-tourism, she said.

To a query on Supreme Court banning tourism in Tiger reserves, she declined comment saying the matter is subjudice.

Appointing an animal protection officer in every police station across the country was under consideration, she said.

"We also have a provision (in our guidelines) where every police station can have an animal protection officer. We have the funds for that. We need to publicise this matter. They are paid by us. We would like every police station (in the country) to have an animal protection officer," she said.

"Basically, we dedicated ourselves, in ensuring humane treatment for animals whether they are in circuses, or in films or the transportation to slaughter houses.." the minister said after attending the 37th Annual General Meeting of the Animal Welfare Board of India. 

Of animal scavengers and pigs

I have always known that human beings give pigs a bad name – calling a messy or dirty individual a messy pig, for instance, and that pigs on the contrary were very clean animals. But this new use to which they were put bemused and befuddled me.

The first time I went to Goa, many many years ago, I wanted a tour of ‘heritage’ Goa. A kind and knowledgeable friend took me on an extended tour of sites, mostly Portuguese and mostly churches. We also went to some old mansions where the famous families of Goa had resided in splendour for generations.
That is when I first discovered a curious thing about pigs — that they were officially used in these old houses to eat human excreta in the absence of sewage systems. That the pig pens were built to ensure that they got human waste directly and could dispose of it immediately, more or less as it fell. And that these pigs were actually kept to grace the tables and palates of the Goans.(Recycling at its best – the pigs eat human excreta and the humans eat the same pigs). 

Now I have always known that human beings give pigs a bad name – calling a messy or dirty individual a messy pig, for instance, and that pigs on the contrary were very clean animals. But this new use to which they were put bemused and befuddled me.

Why this comes to mind is because of a petition filed in the Supreme Court of India by the Safai Karmachari Andolan with data culled from the latest census, and heard by the Supreme Court with anger and disbelief.SKA found that despite claims to the contrary, most States in India still use manual scavengers and animals to clean toilets! Yes, I knew of the inhuman practice of continuing manual scavenging, but that there exists data on how many animals are deployed to clean toilets astonished me. This then is obviously a common practice, not only confined to old Goan families. 

SKA data shows that of the 24.6 crore families in the country, close to 10% throw sewage untreated directly into the environment, 50% of which is dealt with by equal numbers of manual scavengers and animals!

The first list of poor performers has some obvious ones with UP topping the list – 3.16 lakh toilets (42% of the national figure) serviced by manual scavengers and over 80,000 by animals. But Bengal coming in second was a surprise, with over 70,000 toilets serviced by animals and 1.3 lakhs cleaned by humans. According to census estimates Gujarat has 4,000 plus toilets cleaned by animals and half the number by humans – vastly underestimated figures according to local NGOs working with the issue.

What has angered the Supreme Court is the continuing denial of the States. How can we even try to deal with the problem if we refuse to accept it exists? (Some of you may remember the incident where a photo of manual scavengers in Gujarat, taken as part of a study by the prestigious Tata Institute of Social Sciences, was dismissed by our chief minister as actors posing as scavengers.)

For several years I have been involved with SKA and its extraordinary and tireless leadership. I have seen the results of their efforts. They had wished to put a complete stop to manual scavenging by 2010 but that hasn’t happened. Sometimes they have taken the law into their own hands, as when the brave Narayanai Amma from the South took hammers to break down dry latrines. At other times I have seen their frustration. But the practice remains, even if reduced, and governments continue in denial.

As Indians we seem to embrace denial easily as a way of not wanting to confront and deal with uncomfortable issues. Child labour, and its wide spread prevalence is another such issue. We see children serving at tea stall, running errands, cleaning homes, and yet we do not question it, warn the perpetrator that we will complain to the police or take any initiative what so ever. We think it is none of our business. If the state of our country is not OUR business then whose business is it?

Meanwhile I keep wondering – what are these animals who act as scavengers? How have we remained so unknowing of this phenomenon? Or is it only I who is in the dark?

The writer isanoted danseuse and social activist. She can be reached at mallika@darpana.com

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

24 hour medical service for animals


NAGPUR: After TOI reported the death of a calf which was denied specialized medical attention at the Teaching Veterinary Clinical Complex (TVCC) near Alankar cinema due to absence of an orthopaedic, the hospital has now decided to start a 24 hours service for animals.

Dr Abdul Samad, dean, Maharashtra Animal and Fishery Sciences University ( MAFSU) Veterinary College, Nagpur informed that taking into consideration the plight of animals who have to suffer due to the absence of proper medical care, he has decided to start round-the-clock medical services at TVCC.

On August 22, Kaustav Chatterjee of Green Vigil had taken an injured calf to the hospital. The staff had reportedly asked to bring the calf back two days later as an orthopaedic would have been available only then. They had done so after knowing that the calf had fractured its limbs and was administered just a dose of pain killers.

The calf died the next day. A similar incident had occurred a few months too, informed Chatterjee. On Thursday, an injured monkey, whose flesh had melted away, exposing its bones due to electrocution, lay unattended in the hospital. It too was given a dose of just painkillers.

The hospital staff and forest department officials present there said no doctors were available as they had gone to veterinary college for some work. But later, when the hospital superintendent was contacted, he insisted that he was present.

"This is happening much too often. We took up the matter with the dean of the veterinary college which runs the hospital and he has promised that round-the-clock services will start within a week. He has also assured us that there would be no negligence on the part of the doctors," said Chatterjee.
"A meeting of the staff is going to be organized on Monday to discuss the nitty-gritty of managing a 24 hours hospital for animals. The challenge before us is to balance teaching and hospital as we have limited human resources," said Samad.

In India, McDonald’s Plans Vegetarian Outlets

Burger giant McDonald’s Corp. said it plans to open vegetarian-only restaurants in India next year—a world-wide first for the beef-centric fast-food chain.


In India, McDonald’s restaurants have already dropped beef and pork from their menus, adhering to the religious practices of Hindus and Muslims, who make up most of India’s population. McDonald’s kitchens in India are also divided into separate sections for cooking vegetarian and nonvegetarian food. 

“In markets across the world, McDonald’s respects local cultures and has adopted our menu and dining experience to local preferences. The new restaurants in pilgrimage areas will be vegetarian-only because of the specific area and customer base,” a McDonald’s spokeswoman said in a statement. 

Part of McDonald’s success globally has been attributed to its ability to cater to local tastes without losing its brand image. In India, it has numerous vegetarian versions of some of its American classics, like the McVeggie burger and McSpicy Paneer, as well as chicken offerings. On the value menu, the McAloo Tikki burger, which uses a spiced potato-based patty, is a top seller, accounting for as much as one-fourth of the restaurants’ total sales in the country.
McDonald’s first vegetarian-only outlet will open in mid-2013, near the Golden Temple in the Sikh holy city of Amritsar in northern India, where consumption of meat is forbidden at the shrine. The company then plans to open other exclusively veggie outlets near Vaishno Devi cave shrine in northwestern Indian Kashmir, near a Hindu pilgrimage site that draws several hundred thousand worshipers each year.
For McDonald’s, India is still a relatively small market, with just about 270 restaurants out of its 33,000 world-wide. Its U.S. competitor, Yum Brands Inc., YUM +0.40% which owns KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, has about 480 locations in India. 

With its growing consumer class and rising trend of eating out, India has been touted as the next emerging market to follow China in offering a wealth of development opportunities for U.S. restaurant chains. Chains like McDonald’s and Yum Brands are hoping to corner the market for American fast-food in the region.

Indian Vegetarian Congress kicks off in Chennai

Chennai: For vegetarianism, it was a hat-trick of sorts, with personalities from three varied fields — sports, media and the armed forces — batting for it in unison here on Wednesday. Former master blaster and chief selector of the Indian cricket team Krishnamachari Srikanth, veteran journalist and sports writer R Mohan and naval officer in-charge of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry, Amar K Mahadevan (VSM), were the chief guests at the inaugural of the Indian Vegetarian Congress, organised by the Sahal Jain Shree Sangha Chaturmas Samitihi-2012. 

Speaking on the occasion, Mohan said that it is easy to practise vegetarianism today than in the 1970s and 80s, when it was not even heard of in countries such as the West Indies and Australia. He added that getting vegetarian food, while on tours there, was a serious problem. “I could afford to skip meals and make do with bread; however, for someone like Srikanth, who had to go out and perform, it wasn’t the case. The Tamil community in such places would come to his rescue and offer him cooked food from their homes. There have been instances when I have visited his hotel room and savoured such food,” he reminisced. 

He added that the temptation to yield to non-vegetarian food never arose to the duo, despite Srikanth’s team-mate Sunil Gavaskar poking fun at them, stating that they were missing out on delicious cuisine. Debunking the theory that vegetarians are not cut out for strenuous activities such as sports, Mohan averred: “One must remember that during the 1983 Cricket World Cup final, it was Srikanth, a vegetarian, carting a battery of West Indian fast bowlers all over the ground.” 

Indian Vegetarian Congress kicks off in Chennai 

Srikanth said that he had always been a vegetarian and lauded the Samithi for organising the event, which also includes competitive events for children. “Every kid has a talent, which needs to be showcased appropriately. Such events enable this. Live and let live should be our guiding principle,” said Mahadevan.
He added that he had noticed many naval staff turning to vegetarianism because of its values. Speakers on the occasion dwelt on the benefits of vegetarianism, both health and ecological. Students from various schools were present. Drawing, painting and cookery competitions were also organised for college students and women as part of the one-day event.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Firecrackers set off to kill stray in Belapur

NAVI MUMBAI: A stray met a horrifying death inside Rajiv Gandhi stadium in CBD-Belapur. According to activists, a firecracker explosion was set off to kill the eight-month-old dog. The stray's charred remains were found in a green room at the civic-run sports stadium on Saturday.
"A local veterinarian who examined the dog's remains stated in the report that the stray died due to serious burn injuries, a broken vertebral column and ribs," said animal rights campaigner Aditi Lahiri. "Somebody had fastened firecrackers on its body and then lit them. Several matchsticks have also been found at the spot," she added.
While Lahiri and other activists like Ajay Marathe have not complained to the CBD police, they plan to meet the Navi Mumbai police commissioner to highlight growing atrocities against animals. "The dog's carcass was first noticed by some of the students who study at the civic library near the area. We are alarmed that horrible and cruel methods were used by unknown people to kill strays dogs," said Lahiri.
Earlier, Navi Mumbai activists had complained about fatal attacks on puppies and dogs and attempts to poison animals. "Since early this year, there has been an outbreak of the dangerous distemper viral disease among stray dogs. However, the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation has not been able to do anything about the sick animals since there is barely any space in the dog pound, where sterilizations take place," said Lahiri.
"An RTI query revealed that Cidco had earlier given plots to the civic body in Sanpada, but this land has still not been used to take care of animals," she added
"It seems like no one is interested in animal rights in Navi Mumbai, which is why stray dogs are being blatantly killed without any fear of the law," said animal welfare officer Ganesh Nayak of NGO Animals Matter To Me.
"Around four years ago, more than 40 strays were poisoned to death in a single night in Nerul. However, the culprits were never brought to book despite a police complaint," he added.