By Sagarica Rajakarunanayake
From Sathva Mithra
It is apparent that the Colombo City development plan has targeted the animals and birds of the city for elimination in what appears to be an attempt to enhance its cosmetic effect. We have learnt there are fears that after restructuring and renovation, the city will be polluted by the birds and animals. While showing commitment to preserving the historical buildings of the colonial era the architect of the city development plan must also protect a much older, living heritage, the fauna and flora of the city, including the dog and the crow, mentioned in the Mahavansa and ancient books of literature, as having a distinct place among people and the environment. This is true even today. As for pollution of the city by birds and animals, it is left to the CMC to device ways of getting increased efficiency from workers in cleaning the newly developed city.
Regarding the flora of the city we deeply regret that several magnificent trees in the heart of Colombo, some over a century old, giving shade and coolness to the city, are brought down for road expansion without any consultation with the public and nature protection groups. These trees are also part of a precious eco system, being home to many birds, bats, squirrels, crows and other creatures. Had the important concept of green belts been introduced in the City Development Plan, road expansion could be avoided in certain areas in order to save avenues lined by trees, and also other locations with trees.
The CMC had gone to the extent of attempting to chase birds out of the trees in the city because they pollute the streets. The shameful attempt by them to throw out the birds’ nests from the trees had failed because the firemen who were assigned to do it had enough humanity to refuse to do so as the nests had eggs in them.
The other animal that is ruthlessly targeted for removal and elimination in the city development plan is the dog, moving about on the streets among people. The WHO states it is more appropriate to call this dog, living amongst people and highly tolerated by them, a community dog rather than a stray dog; pointing out they are an asset in achieving high immunisation levels, being more accessible for vaccination than the stray dogs in other countries.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa stopped the killing of dogs in May 2006. Instead of the brutal killing of dogs he called for scientific and humane solutions as recommended by the WHO. These solutions are implemented in all the provinces today. By the President’s intervention we have gained recognition as the first country to stop the brutal killing of dogs and adopt humane scientific methods. The irony is that by cruelly removing dogs to beautify the city, we will sully the good reputation we have earned as the leader in humane and scientific dog population control.
In India, attempts by the state authorities or private bodies or individuals to inflict cruelty or eliminate animals are often successfully challenged because the Constitution upholds under Article 51A (g), that it is the Fundamental Duty of every citizen to have compassion for living creatures. This obligation has been upheld in the Courts of Justice. The judgment of the Delhi Court in a law suit brought by Maneka Gandhi against the Municipal Corporation of Delhi on the killing of dogs states: “It needs no great learning to appreciate that dogs or animals are not encroachers on this earth. There is no question of eliminating them. A lot on humanising the treatment is possible and sensible ways of doing it have been suggested.”
As the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development is known to be the architect of the Colombo City Development Plan and its execution, we have to address him on the issue of the surreptitious removal of dogs resulting in harming not only dogs but also humane and scientific efforts at the proper solution to dog population control. We request that he intervenes to put an end to these obnoxious removal of dogs, which is cruel in the extreme, disrupting a valuable programme controlling rabies and the dog population, and a negation of the respect for other species and compassion for all living beings that is part of the culture of this land.
Dog is the best friend of man. I suppose there is no room in this country for people with gratefulness.
Banda Sunday, 22 July 2012 08:14 PM
Please don't kill, but all over the western world animals are taken to shelters . If they cannot find families for them, they euthanize the stray animals.I don't want SL to look like India no matter what their policy is, except for a few places the country is not a model to follow.Instead like Sanjay Gandhi did , to control the human population ,they sterilized men by force. He did it too !
Matalan Monday, 23 July 2012 03:06 AM
Hear, hear!! A very well thought out article. As the dogs are approachable in most instances, I can't see why the numbers of (community) dogs can't be controlled through birth control measures such as injections or castration of testicles. For, if you start killing, I doubt whether it shall ever be a once and for all and at what moral expense?
Crusader Monday, 23 July 2012 03:19 AM
Any human who has known the loving and faithful companionship of a dog would not condone what the urban developers are doing to them in this country. It is not strange to see these things happening when we see the sad way even people are treated.
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