NRI complex residents oppose stray dog feeding areas within complex


A vdeo grab of a protest by NRI complex residents against stray dog feeding areas within complex in Navi Mumbai, India, on Monday, September 4, 2023. (HT PHOTO)

The long simmering tensions between dog feeders and residents of Seawoods Estate Ltd. (SEL) known as NRI Complex Phase I, came to the fore again on Monday. The residents protested plans to provide feeding places within the complex for the stray dogs who they say were not born within the gated community. Animal rights activists have dismissed their claims claiming the authorities have rejected them and all action is based on law.

The protest was held following information from NMMC that six feeding areas within the complex will be marked on Monday. The residents say they have already provided 3 feeding points adjacent to the colony as the dogs pose danger for the residents, particularly senior citizens and children who have been bite victims.

Following a signature campaign that was supported by around 900 residents, the protest saw several senior citizens joining the other residents and management committee in opposing what they claimed was the plan of NMMC, animal welfare board and dog feeders.

Giving details of the clash with the dog feeders, Vineeta Shrinandan Chairperson SEL, “There had been around 20 attacks on the residents following which the managing committee decided to act in 2020. We asked the dog feeders if they had vaccination records, but we didn’t get them. We requested them to feed them as the adjacent public land as per AWB 2010 guidelines. We passed resolutions levying fine for feeding within the complex at parking and other places. The dog feeders then went to court for 7 feedings places within the complex.”

She stated, “They did not get any relief from the either High Court or Supreme Court as there was no rule to feed the strays within the gated community and a demarcated area had been given outside the colony for it. They are hence not the society’s responsibility. It is also against NMMC rules and our freedom of movement and right to life.”

Informed Shrinandan, “The ABC 2023 rules which are contradictory to the prevention of cruelty to animals act and also human rights, were then used by the dog feeders, following which the court asked it to be followed. However, community dogs are born inside the complex while here they have been brought from outside. There is no record of their vaccination etc.”

She added, “Even vaccinated and sterilized pet dogs can bite and hence are kept on leash. Stray dogs do not bite because they are hungry but to protect their territory and their numbers grow when they find food and the pack becomes even more dangerous. We have videos of unprovoked attacks.”

Claimed the chairperson, “The number of stray dogs has gone down drastically as some have died while others have shifted, There are just 4-5 strays now who too we are ready to rehabilitate.”

Said Jayant Hudar, a resident, “We are not against the HC orders or the stray dogs. It is about the safety of 1500 families in the complex. 18 cases of bites and 77 cases of unprovoked attacks have taken place in the last 18 months.”

Stated Hudar, “3 larges area have been given next to the complex. Can’t the dogs be fed just 200 m away or is it about luxury and ego, while we want peace and harmony?”

He added, “80 year old citizens have had to come out today today send a strong message as everyone is worried. If the 5-6 dog feeders here are so concerned about the strays why don’t they take them to their homes and adopt them? NMMC should take responsibility and create feeding areas in adjacent vacant lands.”

Lamented Sudha Sakpal, a senior resident, “I was bitten by a stray dog while on my morning walk last year. It has been traumatic since then and I still fear going out for walks. Why can’t the dogs be kept out when we are so scared?”

Said Ritu Mittal, another resident, “Some people are making an issue of it when there are just around 8 dogs remaining as others have either died or been shifted. Dogs do not bite when hungry but for territorial reasons. If they get food inside, their numbers will grow and the pack becomes even more dangerous.”

Quipped C L Gupta, a senior citizen, “Children are scared to play in the complex, the senior citizens are worried. Why put everyone to risk by getting the dogs inside? And why just dogs, why are goats and chickens also fed by these people?”


We are not in Europe but India; baseless claims of SEL rejected by Court ”: Dog Feeders

The dog feeders have dismissed the protest by the residents stating that the claims have been rejected by the Court and the concerned authorities.

Sharmila Sankar, an animal rights activist, who has been fighting the legal battle against SEL said, “The three feeding places SEL is talking about is not owned by it but is CIDCO land for which it has received notice. Dogs live in territories, you can’t herd them.”

She added, “We are not living in Europe but in India and people seem to have forgotten where we self-made residents have all come from. We have beggars and we have dogs. Dogs need food and if they do not get it they will bark.”

Stated Sankar, “We have HC order of March 20 asking for Animal Birth Control (ABC) rules 2023 to be followed which make it the responsibility of the residential society and the civic body to feed, vaccinate and sterilize the community dogs and not the dog feeders.”

On the SEL claim that the dogs were not born within the complex, she said, “The Maharashtra Animal Welfare Board has already rejected their appeal of which we have the documents. Pathological liars can say anything.”

On the differences over the dog population, Sankar stated, “HC asked us to form Animal Welfare Committees of seven members. SEL boycotted the two committees formed. 6 designated places have been decided upon based on the dog population of 21 as counted by the amicus curiae. We now have given an update that there are now 19 dogs since two have died. SEL can say anything on the number. Where did the dogs disappear after the counting in March?”

Concluded the animal activist Sankar, We have got 8 dogs adopted to good homes. We are not being unreasonable and insisting that the dogs not leave the complex. We are looking for a humane approach and finding homes for them and getting adoption done through NGOs. For SEL rehabilitation only means finding some villager to give them away a proposal which the Court amicus laughed at. These are old dogs, you can’t just throw them away somewhere. That is not the law.”


NMMC has no role

NMMC deputy municipal commissioner Shriram Pawar stated that NMMC has no role in the issue. Said Pawar, “I am one of the members in the HC appointed committee and the committee has submitted a list of feeding points within the complex as per the norms. NMMC has no role to play in it.”

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