General Studies Paper 3

Context: Recently, many dog bite incidents spotlighted the link between urban solid waste management and stray dog attacks in Indian cities.

About Linkages between waste management and stray dog attacks

  • The “carrying capacity” — the ability of a city to support a species — is determined by the availability of food and shelter.
  • Free-ranging dogs are scavengers that forage around for food, eventually gravitating toward exposed garbage dumping sites.
  • Dogs congregate around urban dumps, such as landfills or garbage dumps, due to feeding opportunities.
  • Free-roaming dogs move towards densely-populated areas in cities, such as urban slums which are usually located next to garbage dumping sites and landfills.
  • The proximity of residential areas to dumping sites and the rise in dog attacks speak to “core issues of unplanned and unregulated urban development.

Data Analysis

  • A population boom in Indian cities has contributed to a staggering rise in solid waste.
  • The estimates by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change of India show that only 75-80% of the total municipal wasteis collected, and only 22-28% of it is processed.
    • The rest is dumped across cities, becoming food for stray dogs or clogging sewage systems.
  • Cities have also witnessed a sharp increase in the stray dog population, which as per the official 2019 livestock census stood at 1.5 crores.

Issues and Challenges

  • The existing systems for solid waste collection and disposal are chequered, with poor implementation and underfunding.
  • Most metro cities are littered with garbage bins that are either old, damaged, or insufficient in containing solid wastes
  • Urban local bodies are struggling to implement and sustain rules under the Solid Waste Management Rules 2016, such as the door-to-door collection of segregated waste.
  • Development of cities,managing solid waste has become a daunting challenge,” and 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.
  • India also shoulders the highest rabies burden in the world, accounting for a third of global deaths caused due to the disease.
  • Frequent reports of dogs chasing people down the road, attacking and even “mauling” people to death have made the management of stray dogs an administrative and legal issue.

Measures and Initiatives of India

  • 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 is rabies control measures, including vaccination drives.
  • Other measures include mass culling of dogs in States like Kerala or imposing bans on the entry of stray dogs in colonies or feeding them in public.
  • In November 2022, the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court ruled that people interested in feeding strays should first formally adopt them and feed them in their own homes, directing the municipality to impose a fine of ?200 on anyone found feeding dogs in public places.

Suggestion and Measures 

  • Taking measures to curb exposed garbage is the first step to addressing stray dog bites.
    • Responsible waste management is the solution to this issue
  • Proper management of refuse [solid waste] and a tolerant attitude towards dogs can ensure their peaceful co-existence with us.
  • The cities need to learn to manage solid waste better, rabies vaccines, and dog sterilisation .
  • All the waste collected should be transported to designated landfill sites.
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