Even as stray dogs are visible everywhere in Srinagar leading to increase in dog bite cases, the official records show their numbers have gone down, surprising all.
The government on Friday said the population of dogs in Srinagar “is progressively decreasing.”
“Dog population has decreased from about 90,000 in 2011 to 50,000 in 2014 and to 22,000 at present”, a government spokesman said after a meeting was convened to discuss the issue.
The government, however, has not specified how the number has gone down.
The Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) has disclosed to the government that they have conducted census with the assistance of an NGO Humane Society International and revealed that number of stray dogs in Srinagar is 22,000.
The deputy commissioner Srinagar had convened the meeting after reports of increase in the incidents of dog bites across Srinagar. The government spokesman said the instructions have been issued to the SMC to ensure strict adoption of a multi-pronged strategy including sterilization of all dogs, prompt removal of loose garbage and closure of open garbage sheds across the Srinagar city. He said the officers have been asked to ensure that population of stray dogs is controlled on scientific lines ensuring humane treatment of dogs in the process and scientific management of garbage.
Since 2012, around 30,711 dog bite cases have been reported at an anti-rabies clinic at the Srinagar hospital. In 2017, over 5000 dog bite cases were reported in Srinagar.
In May 2015, the data provided by the ministry of health and family welfare government of India had said no rabies death had taken place in Jammu and Kashmir. But alone in Kashmir region 20 persons died of rabies from 2010 to 2015. In 2015, the data furnished by the SMC and the Census department reveals that for every 13 persons in the Valley, there is one stray dog, putting the dog-human ratio at 1:13.
While the health department says this year they have received 1,963 cases of dog bites, last year the department had received 21,634 cases of dog bites from across Kashmir Valley. In 2016, the department recieved 20,525 dog bite cases, while as the number stood at 20,039 in 2015. In 2014, it was slightly higher with 22,067 cases reported from across the Valley.
The government medical college official said they have witnessed four rabies deaths over the years. The health department officials, however, refused to provide any data about the rabies deaths in Kashmir.
In 2011, alarmed by rabies related deaths and expenses people incur on dog bites, a lawyer had filed public interest litigation (PIL) in the High Court seeking its intervention in controlling "the growing menace of dogs".
But the SMC submitted a project report to the High Court saying it requires more than $191 million for construction of 1,800 dog pounds to tame 91,000 stray dogs of Srinagar city. The SMC had arrived at the figure of 91000 on the basis of dog Census conducted by it in Srinagar city in 2010-2011.