HC disposes of PIL after admin clean chit to animal shelter

Nagpur: The Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court disposed of the petition filed by law student Ankita Shah against the Nagpur Municipal Corporation’s (NMC) animal shelter situated at Bhandewadi after it got a report that everything was fine at the shelter.

Taking note of the affidavit filed by district collector Sachin Kurve, a division bench of Justice Bhushan Gavai and Justice Prasanna Varale disposed of the petition on Wednesday. The PIL was filed by Shah who complained about the lack of facilities at the shelter. She had alleged that animals were illegally confined, without proper arrangements of food and water, which led to starvation and many deaths. She demanded that all injured and sick animals be shifted to the government hospital for treatment.

However, according to an affidavit filed by collector, a committee after inspecting the shelter found no irregularity and concluded the shelter must be allowed to run. An inspection report submitted by deputy commissioner of animal husbandry, who is also the member secretary of district society for prevention of cruelty to animals, on September 14, 2015, stated the shelter which is looked after by NGO People for Animals (PFA) was surrounded by a concrete wall for safety of animals. It further said the shelter was in a clean condition and regular monitoring was being done by NMC.

Shah had moved court after TOI exposed on February 26 how dogs were kept in filthy and unhygienic conditions at Bhandewadi shelter due to the apathy of civic officials. She had filed a PIL against NMC commissioner, NMC veterinary officer, principal secretary of urban development department, principal secretary of department of animal husbandry and animal welfare board of India.

Meanwhile, NMC’s health department on July 25 invited Expression of Interest (EOI) from NGOs for managing the shelter at Bhandewadi. It had asked NGOs working in the field of animal welfare for caretaking and managing the sick and injured animals at the shelter to give proposals as per the terms and conditions of the civic body. NMC’s veterinary officer Dr Gajendra Mahalle informed that the process of technical verification of responses was going on. “On the basis of facilities and previous work experience, name of the successful bidder will be finalized shortly,” he said.


Commitee’s observations:

* Bhandewadi animal shelter spread over an area of 2 acres had a dog kennel with separate compartments and green mats

* A caretaker has been appointed by NMC and the kennel was found clean

* The shelter was surrounded by a concrete wall for safety of animals

* Stray dogs were brought to the shelter based on the complaints of citizens. NMC has a vehicle to shift injured and stray dogs to the shelter

* If animals were found ailing, they were immediately taken to the animal polyclinic at Maharajbagh and given treatment

* The animals were brought back to the shelter and when their health was found satisfactory, they were released in their original habitat

* Kennel was entirely covered by a net to deter flies from coming in the kennel

* The shelter was in a clean condition and regular monitoring was being done by NMC

TOI’s findings :

* A dog suffering from severe spine injury was found dead inside its cage and no authority was aware of it

* Animals living in unhygienic conditions with their waste lying inside their cages

* No vet to treat and look after the injured animals

* A compound constructed for dogs looks more like a garbage dump

* Uncountable fleas were buzzing around the sick and injured dogs

Date: 24/10/2015