WASTE MANAGEMENT

  • Frequent reports of dogs attacking people to death have made the management of stray dogs an administrative and legal issue.
  • Dog bites and poor waste management
  • The carrying capacity, i.e. the ability of a city to support a species, is determined by the availability of food and shelter.
  • Free-ranging dogs, in the absence of these facilities, are scavengers that forage around for food, eventually gravitating towards exposed garbage dumping sites.
  • Dogs thus congregate around urban dumps, such as landfills, due to feeding opportunities.

Increasing solid waste:

  • A population boom in Indian cities has contributed to a staggering rise in solid waste.
  • Indian cities generate more than 1,50,000 metric tonnes of urban solid waste every day.
  • According to a United Nations Environment Program 2021 report, an estimated 931 million tonnes of food available to consumers ended up in households, restaurants, vendors and other food service retailers’ dustbins in 2019.
  • Indian homes on average generated 50 kg of food waste per person.
  • This waste often serves as a source of food for hunger-stricken, free-roaming dogs.

Urban dogs:

  • Urban dogs are believed to have a distinct set of traits as compared to rural dogs.
  • They have learnt to develop survival techniques in fast-paced, often hostile motorised urban environments.
  • Dogs do not usually pose a threat to human well-being.
  • Proper management of refuse and a tolerant attitude towards dogs can ensure their peaceful co-existence with us.

Role of urbanisation

Their population and disease connection:

  1. Cities have witnessed a sharp increase in the stray dog population.
  2. As per the official 2019 livestock census it stood at 1.5 crore.
  3. Independent estimates peg the number to be around 6.2 crore.
  4. The number of dog bites has simultaneously doubled between 2012 and 2020.
  5. India also shoulders the highest rabies burden in the world, accounting for a third of global deaths caused due to the disease.
  6. In 2015, a study conducted in 10 Indian metro cities found a strong link between human population, the amount of municipal and food waste generated, and the number of stray dogs in the cities.

Implications:

  • The unconfined and unmanaged leftovers end up aiding the proliferation of stray dogs.
  • Tepid animal birth control programmes and insufficient rescue centres, in conjunction with poor waste management, result in a proliferation of street animals in India.
  • Most landfills and dumping sites are located on the peripheries of cities, next to slums and settlement colonies.
  • Thus, the disproportionate burden of dog bites may also fall on people in urban slums.
  • A study published in 2016 found that the prevalence of dog bites was higher in urban slums than rural slums.

Conclusion

  • India’s response to the stray dog menace has relied upon the Animal Birth Control (ABC) programme, through which municipal bodies trap, sterilise and release dogs to slow down the dog population.
  • The second anchor was rabies control measures, including vaccination drives.

Implementation lacunae:

  1. low awareness around the health implications of dog bites
  2. irregular supply of vaccines
  3. delay in seeking treatments
  4. lack of national policy

SOURCE: THE HINDU, THE ECONOMIC TIMES, PIB

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