The Corporation of Chennai recently inducted a fleet of vehicles with hydraulic lift for catching and clearing stray cattle from the roads of the city in a humane way. However, activists feel that the only way to fight the problem of stray cattle is increasing the penalty on the owners.
At present, the Corporation operates two shelters in the city for stray cattle.
“The vehicles operate in different areas of the city and the cattle caught in the Southern areas are taken to the Pudupet shelter, while those from the North are lodged in Perambur,” explains an official from the Corporation’s Veterinary Department.
However, while the vehicles do a successful job in keeping the cattle off the roads, the owners get off easily with a fine of ` 1,550 per cattle.
Dawn Williams of the Blue Cross of India says that the callous attitude of the owners is a result of the lack of proper deterrence measures.
He says, “Even when a cattle is caught or rescued after it has suffered injuries on the road, the owner collects the cow after paying the nominal fee of `1,550 and again leaves the cow on the street. In worst cases, if the cow is severely injured, he sells it to the slaughter house.”
While the Corporation has employed humane hydraulic vehicles to lift the cattle from the roads without the use of leash, the owners, after reclaiming them use the leash again to take the cattle back home, adds Williams.
The Blue Cross treats at least two cows every day, after they meet with accidents. The teams currently available can only save around 15 to 20 cows out of every 50 cattle rescued.
However, according to Williams, the cattle that are saved stand to suffer as several butchers stand in line to claim the cattle as theirs. Williams has devised a way to deter this.
He adds that the onus of the action should be on the owners and they should be made to face the heat.
He says, “I get an FIR registered with the police about every cattle that I rescue. If any butcher or even the real owner comes to claim the cattle, he is slapped with a case under IPC 289 for failure to provide food and shelter to an animal he owns.”
Another animal activist S Srinath says, “The authorities have taken measures to curb the menace, but the approach is wrong. It is not the cattle’s mistake that it is on the road; it is the fault of the owners that they left it there. One warning is understandable, but if the same cattle owner is found to be responsible for the second time then the cattle should be confiscated and given to Blue Cross.”